After much research (faxed menus, reading reviews) we decided to go to Restaurant Halie in Pasadena for dinner Saturday night. I chose it since I know that it shares the same owner as Devon in Monrovia, which I've heard many positive comments about. Also, I had a hankering for a good piece of foie gras and it was indeed on the menu. The whole experience, unfortuantely, was disappointing and not worth all the time and effort put into finding it in the first place.
My husband and I walked into the beautiful place at 6:00PM and were seated promptly. THe decor and atmosphere are the best thing about the place- they even take acoustics into consideration which was a nice change of pace from the usually noisy restaurants in Los Angeles. After looking over the small menu, I decided to get the foie gras w/ vanilla risotto, apple tempura and "balsamic mole." Mole my butt! It was simply melted bittersweet chocolate- it smelled like it, looked like it, had the same consistency...and was very sweet. Mix that in with the rich foie gras 'steak'(which was actually three tiny pieces seemingly stuck together) and the heavy risotto- it was like dessert with liver on top. NOT the best way to kick in an appetite. Husband had the mushroom soup which was good but needed a lot of salt (and my husband is usually not a big salt person). Moving on, husband ordered the pasta du jour, which was penne with some kind of pesto and tiger shrimp and I ordered the butter poached lobster with truffles and tomotoes. THe pasta was overcooked- puffy and soft..with absolutely NO flavor. It looked like pesto and had an oily sheen, but it might as well have been water because there was no taste to it whatsoever. My husband just noshed on the bland shrimp and went for the bread basket. When my lobster arrived, I perked up- it was beautifully presented- the head and tail intact, nice sheet of pasta laid on top. Well, the head and tail were empty, and when I lifted up the sheet of pasta I found about 5 quarter sized chunks of lobster meat swimming in a salty broth with haricot verts and one chunk of tomato. It tasted fine, but for $22 I would have expected a bit more lobster and I too, satisfied my hungry stomach with bread.
We didn't even want to bother ordering dessert and nothing on the menu stood out, so we asked for the check. One good thing- the waitress noticed that my husband had barely touched his pasta and asked (as if she knew already) "was the pasta overcooked?" When we said yes, she came back with the check and had taken the pasta off. We had brought our own champagne and the corkage is free for the first bottle, so the total with tax and a generous tip was $60.00- not too bad for a mistake but $60.00 nonetheless that we could have used at another decent place.
Basically, we both came away from the experience very sad that the chef at Halie is obviously more concerned with image than substance. We were attracted by the originality of the menu items, but it meant nothing since the combination of the different ingredients didn't mesh well.
Anyone else have a similar experience there?