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Restaurants & Bars 4

Bistro 561, Maison Akira, or Ritz-Carlton Dining Room for Birthday Celebration?

ipse dixit | Oct 29, 200407:55 PM

Fellow Chowhounds I come seeking your sage advice.

I am taking my mother out for a celebratory birthday dinner next week and plan on staying on the "east" side, i.e. Pasadena and its surrounds.

I am thinking of one of the three restaurants listed in the RE line. I think each has its own intrinsic upsides as well as its inevitable pitfalls.

Bistro 561
GOOD: Will opt for the tasting menu if we go here, which means we get 10 or so different and often very imaginative dishes. The staff is very (over)eager to please and is quite attentive. Wine selection is also very good.
BAD: Ambience leaves much to be desired. Sometimes the food can be uneven (they're students after all!) and some courses can come out of the kitchen sort of cold.

Maison Akira
GOOD: Right balance and use of French Asian influences. The omakase/chef's table menu provides what I believe to be the best stage for Akira to showcase his talents. Helpful staff.
BAD: The wine selection can be better and aside from the specials there doesn't seem to be much variety. Desserts could be better.

Ritz-Carlton Dining Room
GOOD: The setting is marvelous, esp. the outdoor dining area. The food is impeccably presented and the desserts are astounding (the creme fraiche ice cream may be better than sex).
BAD: A bit stuffy. Granted it is a hotel restaurant, but the prices are a bit high. Sometimes the nightly "entertainment" can be distracting.

So, what say you folks? Any votes for either of the three (or perhaps other suggestions)?


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