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Halie - Second visit to an underrated Pasadena Gem

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Halie - Second visit to an underrated Pasadena Gem

Griller141 | Jun 9, 2005 12:29 AM

Went a few months ago because of the 20 different by the glass Pinot Noir selection - they feature a different varietal each month - the Pinot selection is usually more limited. While you had to push to have the Pinots served in the restaurant (as opposed to the wine bar), they agreed to do it - and no, we only had 3 apiece, including two Williams Seylems which, to my knowlege, are not available anywhere else in the world by the glass. But we were unexpectedly impressed by the food.
Went back tonight to see if it was a fluke.
First, this place is hard to find - 1030 E Green, between Catalina and Wilson - sign flush with the building - you have to be looking for it. Parking is on your own on the street.
Second,the multiple impressive wine tasting flights are available only in the wine bar (but you can get the entire food menu in the wine bar). Stayed in the restaurant because of the serene ambience of the place - only two tables occupied which implies a private waitress and that rarest of all things in LA -elegant quiet.
Third, the food is unexpectedly imaginative and well executed. Tempura escargot - lots of garlic and parsley underlaying crisp, if somewhat bland, tempura style escargot. A generous helping with the ineffable subtlety of premium escargot. Very unusual. They did, however, cry out for a little salt. One of the effete idiosyncracies of the place is that there is no salt or pepper on the table and the waitstaff suggests you "try it" before asking. The implication, obviously, is that extra seasoning is an insult to the chef.
Beet and goat cheese salad is very good - probably better than anything else of the sort available in the Pasadena area (except the Huntington Ritz for 4x the price).
Duck ravioli had too much duck and too little pasta. Also needed a little of the forbidden salt. But the maple foam (despite being maybe a little trite these days)was an inspired accent that unexpectedly heightenend the otherwise bland duck.
Lamb was excellent - likely New Zealand with a lot of attractive gaminess.
Also, amuse bouche of salmon tartare and a competent grapefruit sorbet palate cleanser.
Stephen Cross Chardonnay by the glass ($10) - excellent buttery presence with a fine butterscotch palate. The glasses were the better part of 1/2 bottle apiece - dear to my heart in this age of 2 oz pours.
A Mazocco Matrix 1999 was $52($40 retail)very hard to find. An exquisite blend of 2/3 cabernet, 1/5 merlot, some grenache and petit verdot. Easily a match for many $100+ Bordeaux.
Throughout the evening, the elegant ambience and excellent service (it should be with only two tables occupied) made me realize what a find this place is. Unmatched in Pasadena and rare in the entire area.
Bill was $72 apiece (including a lot of wine) before TT.
This place deserves a try for anyone in the Pasadena area, assuming great wine and peace and quiet are criteria.

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