After the "Pasadena is Weak" thread, we had to revisit our favorite places just to be sure there was hope.
In order of "strongness":
Masion Akira - on good nights rivals Spago. You have to be into the French Japanese thing, but there are pure French and pure Asian selections. The tasting menu (Rabelais - 5 courses for $50 - $68 with two wines) is a revelation. Recently had scallop aspic, Copper River salmon - wild - with dill cream, escargots in brioche, TRULY SPECTACULAR roasted veal tenderloin in a port reduction, and poached pear. Wines are ok, though there are a lot by the glass. Weak Rose with the tasting menu was a major disappointment but others were fine (Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir, a full bodied Vouvray). IMHO this is he best dinner in Pasadena.
Bistro 45 - lots of detractors, but not us. Consistently well executed Napa type California cuisine, reliable service, amazing wine list (largely CA, but many wines that you simply cannot get elsewhere) at not astronomical prices.
Maddeline's - probably the most underrated place in Pas. Quiet elegant place with competent service. Relatively simple menu (veal delmonico, Korbuta pork chop, roasted chicken, seared duck breast, etc) but excellent preparations; usually not crowded. Probably a hundred wines by the glass, many top notch, though not at bargain prices
Arroyo Chop House - often panned, but simply the best steakhouse in the City (no apologies). World class service, no nonsense big meat, nice sides, elegant surroundings. No bargain, however, and wines are grossly overpriced.
Ritz Huntington The Dining Room - overrated, but still pretty good. Reliable service and nice surroundings. Chef will cater to whims if asked. Reliable preparations but always leaves just a little to be desired. Extremely expensive.
Parkway Grill - overly complicated preparations, service can be a little pushy, but if you order simply this can be a pleaant meal. Also overpriced.
Not Pasadena, but Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock never fails to satisfy. Bona fide old school French preparations (a vanishing art), over the top French waiters, interesting wines (ask for the specials). Lots of noise and not overly comfortable. Prices are great. Even with the owners deserting to Cafe de la Gare in So Pas, the chef seems to have stayed behind.
Pasadena is OK. Only the west side seems better to me. Having recently done a round of highly touted restaurants in South Pasadena I have to ask whether it is not the inheritor of the "weak" appelation (have not yet tried Mike and Anne's though).
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