I visited LA for ten days recently and had the good fortune to eat out for almost every lunch and dinner. Some wonderful finds, some disappointments, and some good enough to make me think about leaving Chicago. (Well
nah.) Tantra, Edendale Grill, Clementine's, Water Grill, Julienne, the Chart House (yup, that one), Alto Palato
Of all of these, I wanted to share one because it seems off the beaten path and worth a little trek (define "little" for yourself). If you haven't discovered Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena, you may want to hop in the car one lazy evening. It's located on a quiet street in a residential neighborhood and a charming place it is. We arrives without a reservation and so sat outside in the heating enclosed space. (Which, it should be noted, filled very quickly.)
She began with a grilled eggplant appetizer which, since I did not take notes, I cannot recall well (it was also her dish and she pronounced it excellent). It was $7.50. My Bibb salad with candied walnuts, goat cheese, champagne vinaigrette was likewise excellent at $7.25 and just the right size. She had paella; she is still raving about the flavor: the rice was tomatoey without being gooey and there was ample seafood on hand, including calamari, chicken, and andouille sausage. Now I love andouille but I'm not quite sure that this is the place for it. I was very happy for my part. My Virginia striped bass (sautéed) sat atop soba noodles, accented with coconut cream and cilantro (though I confess I had a bit of trouble distinguishing them separately, they combined for a superb flavor). Our common complaint: though priced reasonably, the portions were on the small side. The paella was $20 and my bass $18. Just barely enough food in our view to satisfy, wonderful though it was.
The wine list (by the glass) was smallish and not terribly wide-ranging. I ended up with a Mark West pinot noir for $7. Fair. Dessert was a liquid center chocolate cupcake. Again, the size thing: for $6.50 a BIG cupcake would have been nice. She raved; I didn't care for it. It was okay--just nothing at all special. Dinner for two (with two appetizers and one glass of wine), $71 before tip.
My one little whine notwithstanding, go! It's a cozy, relaxed, and relaxing place. Despite the portion size, I'd go back in a flash for the flavors were full and delightful. A truly enjoyable, reasonably priced dinner.
For those of you who want S. Irene's (favorable) opinion, try the link below.