Curiosity was piqued by a post on this board stating that this was "the best place in Pasadena". I didn't for a moment think it would be, but now I'm wondering.
Very hard to find - hidden halfway between Catalina and Wilson on the south side of Green. It's a huge place with several large rooms: dining room, bar and wine bar.
We were the only ones in the 15 or so table main dining room for a solid two hours (Wednesday 7-9pm). Had a waitress and two busboys all to ourselves. Lots of candles, big fireplace (with candles in it - no fire) and nice lighting. Strange but not unpleasant middle eastern modern music.
Service was knowlegable, pleasant, and needless to say, attentive.
Fairly good appetizers. Special misto salad had tasteless tomatoes but was serviceable - first rate olive oil and Balsamic. Celery and pear soup was out of the ordinary - deep celery and white pepper flavors with pears that were more texture than flavor.
The menu had one of each type of meat: fish, pork, lamb, beef, venison, and a duck ravioli.
Halibut on a white bean puree was excellent - perfectly done, extraordinarily fresh, and with a very delicate white wine sauce.
Venison was the equal of Saddle Peak - fork tender, wonderful texture, that better than steak flavor without a lot of gaminess. The sauce was deep enough to get lost in - cabernet, thyme, stock that was obviously made with carmelized venison bone stock.
Quibble: not overly hot - this may have actually enhanced the flavors but detracted from the potatoes and beans.
This place has high end pretenses: amuse bouche of bruschetta with salsa cruda of tomato and basil; champagne sorbet between courses - curious taste of mango, though we were assured it had no fruit other than that in the champagne.
The real reason to go (other than the wide open spaces) is the wine list. Many excellent wines by the bottle for <$35. For the month of April there are about 20 Pinot Noirs by the glass. And at reasonable prices. 2001 ZD Sonoma Coast $9; 2001 Lynmar "Quail" $10. Also Paul Hobbs and many Siduris for $10-15. Williams Selyem were on the list, but they were out of the Central Coast and refused to sell the Sonoma Coast by the glass despite being on the list. There was some question as to whether the Wine Bar would serve their Pinots in the main dining room, but there was no hassle when we requested this.
This may really be the best restaurant in Pasadena if you're into wines and aren't too demanding about a huge menu selection. Much superior to most of our other recent Pasadena forays.