Pork taco Al Pastor


“Let’s Eat Out”

At

Matt Denny’s

145 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA

(626) 462-0250

I enjoy knowing the history of restaurants as it gives them character.  That is especially true when the restaurant like Matt Denny’s Ale House has been around a long time.  I believe it has been at this location since 1999.  It is definitely considered to be one of the area favorites with many loyal, long time patrons.  Before I discuss the menu and my recommendations, please enjoy the short history of the restaurant’s namesake.


Very popular..the hot crusty rolls

French style escargot

Let’s Eat Out

At

Phoenicia Restaurant

343 N. Central Ave., Glendale

818-956-7800.

Thai  Red Curry Snapper

The fabulous oysters topped with caviar

Mint Leaf Indian restaurant has received rave reviews from most everyone who has eaten there. However,  I must admit that I was a bit surprised by the small size of the restaurant as the building appears to be quite large from the outside. Supposedly they got approved for a banquet hall but the neighbors were unhappy with this prospect and fought the permit so those plans have been put on hold, but for now this is a lovely little restaurant with very good food and a most appreciative clientele. I am also delighted to report that the restaurant has an ample parking lot available which is a major plus in the Pasadena area. 

 I was also excited to find one of my favorite server, Santos Frias, as the manager/head waiter at Mintleaf.  He has become a good friend over the years as I have followed him from restaurant to restaurant writing my reviews for Pasadena, Glendale, La Canada Flintridge and the San Gabriel Valley.  He is probably one of the best servers I have ever had as he knows how to treat the customers with respect and award them excellent service. He is an asset to any restaurant with his wealth of experience, sparkling personality and great sense of humor. He adds another plus to dining at this restaurant.

 Mint Leaf is a popular place so if you do not have a reservation, you can expect a wait.  The interior is quite elegant with a lot of attention given to detail. The ceilings are a bronze/copper/ gold color with, a “metal” tile-like design affect. There are deep wine colored curtains covering the windows and matching decorative wall paper that brings warmth and elegance to the overall décor. The booths are spacious and comfortable. There was enough tabletop space for the various assorted dishes, traditional to Indian cuisine as we wanted to sample and share.  Santos informed us that we can customize our dishes to fit our heat index without sacrificing flavor which I appreciated as I am not a fan of hot spicy food of any kind.   For a beverage, we chose beer to go with our meal which was the perfect match. We enjoyed a lager named Taj Mamhaul which was the perfect choice.
 

We started with appetizers: the traditional vegetable samosa (puff pastries stuffed with potato, peas spiced with ginger and cilantro) and Shrimp Pakoras (Tiger shrimp marinated with lemon juice, chilis, ginger and dipped in garbanzo flour batter and lightly fried).    Both appetizers were delicious but be warned that the samosas were quite spicy, for me anyway, but the others thought they were delicious.  I love shrimp so I really enjoyed the Pakoras appetizer and the two delicious sauces that came with it..one was a cilantro sauce and the other was made with tamarind and slightly sweet.

 For entrees we decided to sample two different dishes.  We chose  the classic chicken tikka marsala (chicken breast pieces served in creamy tomato curry sauce), and Lamb Vindaloo (lamb pieces that have been marinated in the traditional ground spices and malt vinegar blend then cooked in a fiery curry sauce.) The flavor of this was delicious but it was too spicy for my palette so I preferred the chicken curry.  Both our dishes were served with balsamic rice and traditional naan bread that is raised flour bread baked in a tandoor oven.  It is also available with different seasonings: garlic, basil, mozzarella and feta cheese, pinenuts or stuffed with various nuts, raisins, kalamata olives, and even maraschino cherries.   I really enjoyed sampling the naan and found it most unique and interesting with the assorted flavors available.  

Other outstanding menu items include Tandoori lamb chops that have been marinated in black pepper, ginger and a special blend of spices then barbequed in a tandoor oven.  My husband who loves lamb chops swears that they are “the best he has even tasted.”  The biryani ( flavored basmati rice with vegetables, chicken, or lamb slow cooked in the traditional dum pukhi) is very flavorful and always a good choice.  Mintleaf also offers several vegetarian entrees and also fish and tofu choices as well.  It is a varied and interesting menu that appeals to a wide variety of diets. 

Even though we were full, we wanted to taste one traditional dessert so we ordered the Fig and Almond Kulfi (Indian ice cream mixed with a bit of fig and topped with almonds).  It was very rich but creamy, smooth and very sweet.  All the desserts looked appealing and interesting so we will have to give some others a try on our next visit.

All in all, our dining adventure at Mint Leaf was a delightful experience.  We enjoyed good service with a helpful and knowledgeable waiter who helped guide our menu choices to assure that we had an enjoyable meal.  The atmosphere of the restaurant was cozy and comfortable. The booths offer a feeling of privacy as well as helping to keep the noise level down.  We will definitely return to Mint Leaf as we enjoyed all of the dishes we chose.  My best tip for this restaurant is to make a reservation. If you don't and you come on the weekend, be ready for a good wait.   Call ahead to save yourself some time and frustration.  You will be so glad you did.

The famous Malbec skirt steak

Crispy Fried Onion rings

Salmon Lunch Combination Special

Let’s Eat Out

AT


Malbec, Argentinean Cuisine


1001 E Green St  Pasadena, CA


(626) 683-0550

A Wonderful Sunday brunch buffet with an assortment of dishes

Toi Vanasin, owner of Min's Kitchen, still likes to serve her customers

Let's Eat Out!


At


Taylor’s Steak House

901 Foothill Blvd., La Canada Flintridge

(818) 790-7668

Let’s Eat Out

At

Dal Rae Restaurant

9023 E. Washington Blvd. Pico Rivera,

562.949.2444

The flavorful mushroom ravioli with truffle sauce



The Legend of Matt Denny

Matt Denny was the only son of an Irish Sea Captain. Most of Matt Denny’s childhood
was spent running back and forth between the Eastern sea board and the Caribbean.
Born on Key West, and schooled in the deep water ports of the warm Caribbean
seas, Matt loved the colors and flavors of these tropical playgrounds. By the age of
fourteen, Matt was working as a cook at the only place to eat in Pirates Cove, Jimmy
B’s Havana Day Dream.

Matt Denny’s family was lost at sea in the Bermuda triangle, so Matt decided to leave
the Caribbean and try his luck in Mexico. There he was befriended by a local wheeler
dealer, Roberto Avila. Roberto and Matt opened a cantina where “pirates’ bought
and sold hard to get cargo. Roberto y Mateo’s Cantina was the busiest bar in all of
Mexico. A dispute over a card game sent Matt Denny north to the safety of the Pacific
Northwest, where he ran into Peter Russell, a famous hunter and guide. Together
matt and Peter hiked the streams and mountains of the Northwest with Peter
making a good living selling furs, while matt cooked the game for local Lumberjacks.
Some of their early trophies can be seen on the walls of this very Ale House… there’s
“Bullwinkle,” “Mac” and “Warren.”

The lure of the endless riches brought Matt down to California. He had several set
backs before he returned to what he did best… feeding the locals. Matt found miners
and settlers lining up at his campfire every night for a hearty meal and a homemade
ale. It was at Artie’s Camp where Matt Denny opened his first Alehouse. The back
bar that you see in this restaurant is the original bar from over a hundred years ago.

Today they use the same recipes from the Caribbean, Mexico, Pacific Northwest and
early California that Matt Denny developed during his lifetime. They match these
great meals with the best hand crafted ales available.

Copyright Matt Denny\'s Ale House Restaurant, 2012 All Rights Reserved

Lamb Vindaloo lunch special

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Beef short rib enchilada

Let’s Eat Out

At

Clearman’s Steak and Stein

                                                                      9545 E. Whittier Blvd., Pico Rivera

562-699-8823

Let’s Eat Out!

At

Sesame Grill

308 E. Huntington Dr., Arcadia

(626) 821-0880

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The rib-eye steak with mushroom sauce

Very popular Eggs Benedict

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Main Dining room at Racion

View from Green Street of Malbec's Dining Area

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fried calamari with spicy dipping sauce

I had heard of this restaurant from a friend who lives in the area who said it was definitely worth a visit.  My husband and I were in the mood for something different on Saturday.  We had to go to North Hollywood on an errand and I mentioned that this might be a good time to check out this Mexican inspired restaurant since we were in the area.  I had the address so we knew where to find it but even with the address, we drove right by the first time.  Trust me when I say, if you blink you will drive past it.  The large sign with the name is located high above the roof tops. You do not see a building with the restaurant because it is in the back behind a dentist’s office.  You have to either drive into the back parking area through a narrow driveway or park on Riverside Drive and walk up the driveway to the entrance.

 I was immediately enchanted by the garden entrance. Once inside the Spanish decor and welcoming feeling this home, I mean, restaurant had was incredible.  Yes, it used to be a house. The Spanish/old convent looking style is absolutely stunning. It gives you the feeling of being in someone’s beautiful home with lots of small rooms, low ceilings, outdoor patios, a back bar with open windows and French doors. There is dim lighting like the sun is setting creating an overall feeling of welcoming warmth. This location was once a 1920’s style Spanish Estate, once popular in the Toluca Lake area in yesteryear but obliterated by the 134 freeway’s construction.

The owner/chef is Alex Eusebio who was born in Madrid, Spain, spent much of his childhood in the Dominican Republic and eventually found his way to New York City. There his passion for Latin cuisine had an immediate impact on the Nuevo Latino cuisine style.  In 2002 Eusebio accepted his first position as executive chef for the boutique restaurant, Cuba Cuba . He gained respect from local and national food media and accolades including HISPANIC magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Latin Restaurants.” Next, Eusebio moved to Los Angeles to oversee several restaurant projects – among them Mojitos, EIGHT-18 and Restaurant 15. He made his national TV debut on the hit BRAVO reality series “Top Chef” as a season 5 contestant. Immediately after the show Alex and wife Sara opened their first restaurant Sweetsalt. Now a favorite in the area putting Toluca Lake firmly on the culinary map with the addition of Cascabel, featuring Eusebio’s hallmark Nuevo Latino cuisine.

Cascabel means rattlesnake and in the main dining area, a large imposing mural featuring the cascabel definitely dominates the décor of the room.  Our server was charming and very friendly.  She helped us with great suggestions and explained that Cascabel proudly stocked many fine tequilas’ and mescals.  She recommend the house margarita to start and I was ready!  To begin our meal, we enjoyed complimentary homemade chips and the most delicious salsa that is one of there specialties.  The menu is comprised of a selection of “tapas”.  These are listed in categories: Appetizers; Guacamoles; Cerviches; Enchiladas; Tacos; Entrees; and Desserts.  We wanted to try a variety of flavors so we selected from the cerviches, the boquerones (marinated white anchovies with tomato, avocado and lime tostados). We both like anchovies but this was more like sardines and very fishy. I would not recommend it. Next we ordered the spicy black bean enfrijolada with braised short rib, plantains, and crumbled goat cheese.  It was terrific!  Packed with flavor and a hint of spice from the black bean sauce.  The crumbled goat cheese was the perfect compliment. We wanted to try the tacos so we chose the Al Pastor ( achiote marinated pork shoulder, onion, pineapple, cilantro, with salsa verde.) The pork was very succulent and the pineapple and cilantro enhanced the salsa perfectly.  Other interesting menu selections for our next visit includes Burrata salad; duck confit tacos; lobster and beet ceviche; shrimp and chile soup; chicken mole carnitas; Mexican corn bread; Mazatlan bouillabaisse; and roasted radish carnitas.  All sound intriguing.  We were getting full but when we saw Tres Leches Cake on the dessert menu, well, that was a clincher.  The Tres Leches cake was large and topped with coconut and pineapple.  Fantastic is an understatement.  We inhaled it, loving every mouthful.

We will definitely return to Cascabel as there are still many dishes on the menu that we want to try and I know that we won’t be disappointed with whatever we choose next visit. If you want more information of this restaurant, visit the website at www.Cascabelrestaurant.com.  If you want to dine there, I suggest reservations as it is popular and has a long list of loyal followers.

Warm  Chocolate souffle


Malbec is located on a quiet corner on Green Street in Pasadena.  Several small tables are located outside on the sidewalk in front and inside the warm burgundy walls and brown ceiling make the for an intimate feeling and romantic atmosphere. This is a medium sized restaurant.  The noise level is in the medium range, not quiet, but not that New York loud that makes it hard to talk with your guests. The restaurant has a nice comfortable ambiance that is somewhere between casual and sophisticated. It seems to me to be the perfect place for a great dinner, wine, and meaningful conversation.  The menu is varied enough that most anyone could find something to suit them.   This is, an Argentinean style steak house so we ordered a good Malbec wine, of course! We also ordered an excellent sangria which was o tasty and strong that it appears that Argentina wines are also great for making sangrias!
     Once we were seated at our table, they brought out fresh bread and chimichurri dipping sauce ( oil style sauce that is  filled with garlic, scallions, parsley, cilantro, and other herbs) It was so delicious that I asked for more.) We started our meal with an empanada appetizer. There were two empanadas per order ... multiple choices: cheese and spinach, and the other with ham, cheese, basil and cherry tomatoes.  They were deep fried, thus a delicious crust.  The spinach one was top notch, the ham one was also good, but my vote goes to the spinach. Other appetizers selected by members of our party included: Mollejas de Ternera (veal sweetbreads with tomato, onion, avocado, lemon and piquillo pepper sauce), Provoleta (melted provolone cheese with tomato, oregano with grilled bread), Carpaccio (thin sliced raw beef with arugula and shaved parmesan cheese) and Costa Patagonia ( grilled wild seafood in a pimento garlic sauce).
 
For salad, we enjoyed Endive PalmitosY Jamon( Belgian Endive , hearts of palm, on baby frisse, pine nuts dressed with a lemon truffle vinaigrette. and The Malbec with romaine, radiccho, goat cheese, avocado, cucumber, frisse with coutons and a special dressing.   Both salads were fresh and delicious and different from what is usually offered.  On the soup menu is Gazpacho or the soup of the day if you wish a soup choice.
 
As for the entrees they have chickens, fish and steak from which to choose.  However, I came here for the skirt steak or the Churrasco al Malbec, a 10 oz steak cooked medium rare and slathered with the same sauce as the dip. It was pungent but delicate and the steak just melted in my mouth due to its thin nature. It comes with grilled tomatoes, yukon gold potatoes, bell peppers and asparagus with light sprinkle of salt. It was the perfect sized meal. Another entrée that I would recommend for fish eaters is the Lenguado al Champagne Y Akaparras (10 oz flat grilled Pacific Sole in a lemon caper sauce).  This is one of my favorites and an excellent choice since the chef, Pablo is a native of Patagonia and an excellent at preparing fish.  The Entrana al Malbec is another popular entrée as is Lomo a la Pimienta (8 oz. beef tenderloin with Applewood bacon, and peppercorn sauce.  For the pasta lover, try the Sorrentino ( ravioli stuffed with imported Italian ham, smoked mozzarella, asparagus in a pink sauce with mushrooms or Canelones de Pollo y Kale ( two crepes stuffed with roasted chicken, ricotta, kale, Manchego cheese fondue and roasted pine nuts).  This dish is unbelievably rich and delicious.
 
Of course, a great meal includes a great dessert. We ordered a variety to sample: the creme brulee, the bread pudding which was almost like a firm custard served with caramel and a dolop of whipped cream as well as a few berries, all served in separate portions on the plate.  Dried figs were on top of the bread pudding. flan and my FAVORITE --- the Panqueques de Dulce de Leche,  you can't really go wrong with crepes, dulce de leche and ice cream, all were delicious,  I highly recommend any of the desserts.
 
There is only street parking but the restaurant does allow you to park your car in the valet zone on the days that they don’t offer valet and there is usually available parking on Green Street after business hours but don’t let parking stop you from visiting Malbec as it is a  great place for delicious Argentinean food and wines, in fact, I could come back just for the Sangaria!  It would be perfect for a summer evening to sip sitting outside with one of the appetizers. Reservations are recommended.
 

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Choose a delectable dessert for a finale

The main dining room at Phoenicia Restaurant


Start with the empanada

Beautiful Antique Bar

Delicious Humus, crisp cabbage salad and pickles and olives...Mezze appetizers


The famous deep fried whole catfish with ponzo sauce, cilantro and ginger

Sierra Fusion Restaurant is the creation of Chef Joseph Ungrue who grew up in the hospitality industry.  Born in Maui, Hawaii to a Filipino mother and a Greek-Indian father, Jo is following in the creative footsteps of his father, the Executive Chef at a private southern California country club. Jos attended the Sushi Institute of America led by Katsuya Uechi, a world renowned sushi chef to learn traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern flare. Jo and his fiancé, Christina Duarte moved to Las Vegas where he worked at the Bellagio Hotel at Yellowtail, the Japanese-Korean Fusion restaurant and bar.  Now he has returned to Southern California to bring his talent and creativity to his own restaurant, Sierra Fusion.             

Christina Duarte is not from a background of the food industry, but she still found her inspiration by watching her mother cook authentic Mexican dishes so she attended the Le Cordon Bleu in Pasasdena in 2011.  She gained experience working at San Gabriel Country Club under Chef Edward where she met her fiancé, Joseph Ungrue. She also worked at Katsuya in Las Vegas and later at La Cave Wine and Tapas Bar at the Wynn hotel before returning to Sierra Madre to open Sierra Fusion in May of 2016.

Sierra Fusion’s menu is a study in creativity from the combined talents of these two extraordinary chefs.   Strongly influenced from the Japanese, the sushi creations are exactly that…creations!  For our group, we chose a variety of rolls:  The  “Rainbow roll”,(California roll Inside) with salmon, tuna, | hamachi, avocado and shrimp; The “Red Dragon roll” with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, cucumber, tuna, topped with tempura flakes and eel sauce; The “Spicy Shiso” roll with spicy tuna, cucumber, red snapper shiso and jalapenos and “Surf and Turf” roll with lobster, radish sprouts, avocado, seared Wagyu Kobe beef with crispy shallots and truffle chive butter sauce.  The rolls were beautifully presented in a single container and all were freshly made and delicious.

On the chef’s recommendation, we also shared the Jadori chicken which was melt-in-your-mouth perfection.  It was served with a wonderful risotto and Balsamic glaze with crispy kale chips.  Also on the menu for a next visit, The prime petite filet mignon with zucchini and Gouda cake, Cipollini onions and a chanterelle demo glaze; the Kurobuta pork chop with parsnip puree and roasted heirloom carrots with             shishito pepper paste; the beef and orange roast Korean short ribs with Fingerling potatoes, purple cabbage and watercress or perhaps the Diver scallops with sweet potato cake, beets and frisee lettuce.

If you are wanting a light meal other than sushi, check out the sliders: Wagyu Kobe Beef with watercress and caramelized onions; Truffle chicken salad or Karaage chicken with frisee and spicy mayonnaise.   Salad selections include: baby kale Caesar with Hearts of Palm, and black garlic dressing; Papaya salad with shredded green papaya with daikon radish and citrus vinaigrette; or Soba Tom Yum with soba noodles, persimmon enoki mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass and green onions. Pair any of the salads with Miso soup for a lunch or light supper.

Sierra Fusion hosts an exciting brunch on Sunday morning from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm.  Included in the “all you can eat brunch are “bottomless” Minosas, Champagne, Bellinis, an array of delectable items from the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus as well as an egg and omelet station. Selections include: fresh fruit, homemade granola, yogurt, berries, prime tri tip, Karaage chicken, sweet Filipino sausage, Applewood bacon, Wagyu Kobe beef sliders, pecan pancakes, Hawaiian toast, Maui onion home fries, whipped potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Sierra Fusion has a lovely patio for al fresco dining and parking is available adjacent to the restaurant.  Reservations are suggested as it is a popular new place.  Give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Creme Brulee and berries..what could be better?

Special seasoned potatoes

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The Dal Rae Restaurant is a dining tradition for many people who have grown up in the Los Angeles area.  The Pico Riva location makes it a centrally located meeting place for lunch or dinner which is why our family chose it for my mother-in-law’s 99th birthday dinner last week. Most of the senior generation recall dining there for special occasions when they were growing up in Downey and my mother-in-law remembers the restaurant as the place the pharmacy representatives took the doctors out to dine.

The original Dal Rae was opened in 1951 and moved to its current location in Pico Rivera in 1958.  It has the reputation for excellent service, outstanding cuisine and the place to come for special occasions. A loyal customer base has been dining there for generations. Owners Kevin and Lorin Smith grew up in the restaurant business and continue to take pride in serving only the highest quality products. They fly-in aged prime beef from the Midwest and use only the choicest fresh seafood. The Dal Rae is also one of the few restaurants that still makes the classics tableside like Caesar Salad, Steak Diane and Bananas Foster. At the Dal Rae, people enjoy being recognized and treated as special guests.

For appetizers, I like to start my meal with the delicious escargot.  It is a specialty not found in most restaurants and definitely one of my most favorite dishes.  The fresh ahi is also a great suggestion.  The calamari is lightly breaded and fried to perfection.  You can always count on the wonderful shrimp cocktail with the special cocktail sauce as a perfect beginning too.

Salads at the Dal Rae are crisp and fresh.  I especially like their Caesar that is prepared tableside with a flare that is fun to watch.  It is a classic and a great salad to order here.  The mixed baby greens with goat cheese is a winner and so is the other classic, the wedge with a choice of dressing.  For a change, you can enjoy the wilted spinach salad with hot bacon dressing that is also prepared tableside.  The traditional Crab or Shrimp Louie is a meal in its self with 1000 island dressing and hard boiled eggs.

The extensive Dal Rae menu offers many exciting entrees. Beef is always a great choice and there is a nice variety of steaks from which to choose.  he steaks come with a variety of toppings and preparations.  The Pepper Steak is one of the favorites of the regular diners.  The prime rib of beef is perfectly prepared and always a great choice.  Also on the menu is seafood, veal, pasta and several chicken dishes.  Another favorite is the Duck a la Orange and is also considered one of their specialties.

Desserts are a special experience at the Dal Rae.  The Grand Marnier soufflé or the chocolate soufflé are my favorites.  The Bananas Flambe is prepared tableside and is spectacular to watch.  There is also New York style cheesecake, warm apple cobbler, strawberries in Grand Marnier, Chocolate Fantasy, Tiramisu, or Crème Brulee. Choosing is the most difficult part of the entire dining experience.  The desserts are definitely worth the extra calories so don’t pass them up. 

Being an old style restaurant, they pride themselves on the cocktails.  The bartender knows his business and will make you the perfect cocktail of your choice.  They also offer a nice wine selection.  You really can’t go wrong when dining at the Dal Rae as it has earned all the rave reviews it receives year after year.  If you haven’t been to this restaurant, put it on your list as one to try.  Reservations are recommended as it is very popular.  You can visit the website at www.DalRae.com.

 

 

To celebrate my birthday, we decided to take our daughters to Shiro Restaurant.  We had been to this restaurant for our anniversary last year and it is a wonderful place to enjoy excellent cuisine and excellent service. The decor at Shiro has a simplistic charm and understated elegance.  Sherrill Bailey, one of the co-owners, greeted us warmly and we reminisced about a former friend who had worked at the restaurant several years ago when it was actually owned by Chef Shiro.  Sherrill is the heart, smile, and wit of the place, making everyone feel like family by creating a warm and friendly atmosphere for all her guests.  I really appreciate her management style and her superior training of all her employees.  You will always have consistent top notch service at Shiro which is hard to find in most restaurants.

 Our server arrived promptly with water, the baguette and fresh butter.  It was warm, soft in the middle, and with the hard crust on the outside just the way a French baguette should be.  To begin our special meal, Sherrill sent us an amuse buchee,  a strip of roasted red pepper stuffed with goat cheese  We also tried the scallops topped with foie gras to share with the table and the oysters topped with caviar.    Our other appetizers included tempura squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and a delicious ravioli of mushrooms in a wonderful truffle sauce. Everything was perfectly prepared and delicious.   Our daughters are always adventurous so trying different and unusual dishes is great fun as a family. We are martini drinkers too so some of the special martini’s at Shiro were sampled as well.

I ordered the fried large whole catfish. This is one of my favorite dishes. It is served with a ponzo sauce, a perfect complement to the sliced ginger and fresh cilantro garnish.  The entire combination added a lovely flavor to the crispy fish.  Other entrees we tasted and enjoyed included the New Zealand lamb chops and a well flavored tender filet mignon. All the orders came with scalloped potatoes, carrots and zucchini that arrived on warm plates. (I have not had a vegetable side order served on a warm plate since we visited France.)

 Shiro changes the menu selections frequently so there is always something new and exciting to try whenever you visit.  Some of the other entrees available were Loup de Mer (French sea bass) with a butter caper sauce; char grilled New Zealand snapper; broiled black cod; tempura halibut, chicken breast with bacon and scallions; grilled duck breast with a soy-orange reduction; New Zealand lamb chops and for vegetarians, a sautéed tofu steak.    Also available is a special 6 course Chef’s tasting menu for two offered Thursday through Sunday with or without wine pairing.

 Shiro is truly a gem of a restaurant offering a warm friendly environment with excellent service and delicious well prepared creative food. It is a perfect marriage between eye pleasing presentations and well prepared cuisine.  Shiro is a great place to celebrate any special occasion as we did… You won’t be disappointed.  Reservations are recommended as it is not a large restaurant and you want to be seated without waiting. For more information and to see what the daily specials are, visit the website at www.restaurantshiro.com.

Shrimp Pankora

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ColumnsFromStauffer.com

Always delicious shrimp Pud Thai noodles

Fabulous Filet Mignon, baked potato and onions

Shrimp Cocktail appetizer

Taylor’s Steak House has long been a local favorite for residents of La Canada Flintridge and many others in the adjacent areas. Most have heard glowing reviews about this popular eatery with its burnished wood paneling and red leather banquettes. Since remodeling, Taylor’s now has expanded dining areas as well as a wonderful patio complete with a fireplace that will be welcoming in the cooler months. Also added is a private room that is perfect for special celebrations or business gatherings.  There is also a beautiful wine cellar just off the private dining area that houses a library of wonderful wines guaranteed to please even the most discriminating connoisseur..  In addition to the wine collection, guests can also enjoy a premium martini at the full service bar. Taylor’s Steakhouse has been considered one of “Los Angeles’s finest” since 1953 and sports two locations: the original Taylor’s located at 3361 W. Eighth Street, between Normandie and Western Ave. in Los Angeles and the La Canada location.
   
      The real reason that people love Taylor’s is the fabulous steaks at reasonable prices both at lunch and dinner.  They offer wonderful cuts of meat, complete with a baked potato, veggie side and a salad for a great, overall price. Try the Culotte steak (only 2 cuts per steer)--it's a really juicy, thick cut of meat that is a popular favorite and never ceases to please. In addition to steaks of all kinds which include filet mignon, New York, rib eye, Porterhouse, and London Broil, my favorite, Taylor’s has terrific fish and chips, prime rib, pan roasted chicken and terrific hand-carved sandwiches, (my favorite is the grilled brisket with the Ortega chili and cheese). There are wonderful appetizers to start your meal such as large chilled prawns, bacon wrapped scallops and crab cakes.  Taylor’s soups are some of the best I have ever tasted so they are always a consideration as a starter for any meal. Each day there are great specials such as Monday, “Surf and Turf” a combination of prawns and the famous London broil. (This is another of my favorites!)  On Tuesday, don’t miss the fantastic sand dab fillets, lightly sautéed with a lemon butter sauce (considered by many to be the best anywhere!).  Another well-liked special is the Texas “Sonofabitch” beef stew on Fridays and the roast rack of New Zealand lamb on Saturday and Sunday.   No matter what day you visit Taylor’s, you will find a great entrée selection for your meal.  You will not want to miss the wonderful “Molly Salad” that has become a superstar with regular customers.  This is a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with chopped tomatoes and a Taylors’s great blue cheese salad dressing.  Once you try it, you will always include it as part of your meal.  There is even a “Molly Steak Salad” special that is a combination of the salad and a 10 oz. Prime steak sandwich. All Taylor’s steaks are selected from well-aged U.S.D.A. Eastern prime or certified Angus corn-fed beef exclusively.

      This is definitely not the place to go if you don’t want to see or be seen as you will always find a familiar face somewhere in the restaurant either enjoying a delicious dinner or having fun with the group assembled around the bar or socializing on the patio.  The very popular Taylor’s is usually crowded but it is well worth waiting for a table as your patience is rewarded by a delicious meal that is a terrific value.  The service is always friendly and the servers bring “old fashioned” affable warmth to your evening.  Regular customers quickly become familiar and the staff can greet most everyone by name before long.  Manager Nick Shaw and the entire staff at Taylor’s are devoted to providing guests with the ultimate of service.  Many of the longtime employees are popular and well known faces to the regular patrons of Taylor’s which make the restaurant a welcoming place to dine. As the core of the Taylor’s staff, they all bring a special touch to the total ambiance of the restaurant that cannot be accomplished unless there is a certain familiar history with the restaurant.  The staff know how to make everyone feel welcome whether it is a very first visit or a frequent dining destination. Taylor’s takes great pride in serving excellent steaks and providing the best and most friendly customer service. This restaurant was named one of the best steakhouses in the Western region in 2005 by Wine Enthusiast magazine and has won many other awards often touted for offering “  great steaks at great prices!”  

 If you want reservations, I suggest that you call well in advance. The number for La Canada Flintridge is (818) 790-7668 and for Los Angeles, (213) 382-8449.  Once you have tried Taylor’s, you will return again and again as you can’t go wrong at this restaurant. Hours of Operation: Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 3:00pm: Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm. There is free parking available in the lot behind the restaurant or in the adjacent parking structure for the Town Center.

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Understated Elegant dining room at Restaurant Shiro

Meet Fausto, the very Italian Chef at Trattoria Allegria

Camilo’s California Bistro is a delightful restaurant conveniently located in nearby Eagle Rock. This is the definition of a little neighborhood gem with a true family atmosphere.  From the décor to the ambiance to the live music, to Camilo greeting every guest personally at the door, you really are made to feel at home here. 
      The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features a wide selection of delectable dishes.  The very creative omelets are always a great choice for breakfast.  Choose the Eagle Rock Omelet with brie, basil, oven dry tomatoes and mushrooms for something a bit unusual and delicious.  Or try the frittata with smoked turkey, chicken pesto sausage, tomatoes and fresh basil and garnished with Pico de Gallo and sour cream. You can’t go wrong with the sourdough breakfast sandwich. It is delicious, crispy and perfectly grilled.  Some of the “South of the Border” classics include huevos rancheros, enchiladas stuffed with country potatoes, chili sauce and topped with eggs and avocados, and traditional chilaquiles con huevos (fried corn tortillas served with ranchero sauce and cheese)  Not to be missed is the Breakfast burrito, delicious  with liberal amounts of sausage.  Also on the breakfast menu are pancakes, waffles and French toast as well as steak and eggs , hot oatmeal and Amelia’s Trifle of homemade granola topped with vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit.  On weekends come in for the eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine or the special weekend frittata.
       For lunch you will find many wonderful salads from which to choose.  The grilled salmon salad is very good and the Greek salad with chicken makes a very satisfying meal.  I really like the dill tuna salad sandwich. Tuna, you scoff, at a nice place like this with such eclectic offerings? Served on crusty French bread, with Swiss cheese and a dollop of good yellow mustard, it becomes quite memorable.  The sandwich is cut in half with one part "standing" on end on the plate, while the other half is delicately placed on its side, complemented by a delicious pesto pasta salad., the presentation is quite lovely as well.   Add a glass of passion fruit iced tea and you have the perfect lunch  For a griddle sandwich, the shrimp salad sandwich or the calamari sandwich  with toasted  almonds were both different and delicious. 
     If you prefer a larger entrée for lunch, I suggest the pasta putanesca or the penne chipotle with grilled chicken, red onions , pasilla chiles, corn, red peppers, and vegetables in a light Chipotle sauce. It’s a little spicy but tasty. I also love the grilled salmon as it is prepared  just the way I like it, crispy on the outside but moist and flaky on the inside.
      If you are dining out,  Camilo’s has a wonderful dinner menu as well.  For appetizers, choose from the ceviche martini, the petit ragout of sweetbreads or perhaps the exciting Mediterranean tower (five layers of Kalamata olives, cucumbers, feta cheese, tomatoes, and hummus, served with basil oil and toasted flat bread.)  There is always a soup of the day that is a perfect accompaniment   For an entrée, I especially like the Thai curry red snapper.  The filet mignon is served with English Stilton cheese mixed with walnuts and caramelized onions served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a Cabernet Sauvignon sauce.  It is excellent!  Also worthy of consideration is the pork chop Normande, the rib-eye steak or Camilo’s chicken breast stuffed with ricotta cheese, spinach, onions, garlic and herbs topped with a red pepper sauce on a bed of green rice. . Of course, if you are a chocolate lover, you will want to try the flourless chocolate cake for dessert, but the bread pudding with creamy cognac sauce is also wonderful.
     Camilo’s is a good place to bring a family as there is a very nice children’s menu for both breakfast and lunch.  The quality of the food is always excellent, prices are more than fair, and although they have a short wine list, the selection is rather good featuring many California vintages from well know wineries. There is a nice selection beer as well. The corkage fee is $5.00 per bottle with a limit of two bottles per table if you prefer to bring your own.  Camilo’s offers full service catering tailored to meet individual entertainment needs through their catering and event company since 1976. Camilo and his wife, Amelia, run a first class establishment that caters to everyone's tastes. For more information or to make reservations, please call 323 478-2644.  For catering information, call 323 478-1300. Free parking is available behind the restaurant

Let’s Eat Out

At

Camilo’s California Bistro

2128 Colorado Blvd.  Eagle Rock.


(323) 478-2644

Main Dining area at Cascabel,,,"The Rattlesnake!"

Assorted Sushi Rolls

Let's Eat Out


At


Trattoria Allegria


3600 Ocean View Blvd. #12, Montrose


818-248-5113

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Popular Matt Denny Ale Burger

Let's Eat Out


At


Ichiban Japanese Restaurant


711 Foothill Blvd., La Canada


818-952-7633

Jumbo Diver Scallops

Let’s Eat Out
At
Racion
119 W. Green Street, Pasadena
626-396-3090

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California roll and spicy tuna roll

Matt Denny’s restaurant is perfectly decorated for a "neighborhood haunt".  It is casual, comfortable and very friendly.  Just the kind of place one wants to stop by, have a beer, watch a game and chat with friends. The bar is the perfect setting, with enough screens to watch your favorite team and enjoy companionship with fellow fans.  Owner Matt (no, his last name is not "Denny") prides himself on his wide selection of fine brews which is updated constantly with the best he can find in the US and abroad. The restaurant houses a beautiful antique bar completely equipped with a good stock of liquors as well as beer and ales for his guest’s pleasure. This compliments the decor and helps create a wonderful ambiance whether you are taking the family out or hosting a large party.  If you're offended by animal heads mounted on the walls, however, you might want to go elsewhere.       The food is very tasty and definitely “All American!” The onion rings are made with a light and airy batter with a touch of sweetness.  I also loved the calamari rings and the delicious sauces. Check out the different sauces as you have a choice and they are all quite good. The Ale House burger was cooked to perfection.  The Tri Tip platter is also very good as is the pulled pork, and beef brisket. I also think that the fish and chips at Matt Denny’s are very good and a nice alternative to burgers or heavier entrees. I'm usually not a big fan of chicken Marsala, but the version at Matt Denny’s is excellent.   The chicken was succulent, the sauce very good, and the portion was generous.  The two sides, sautéed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes complimented the entrée quite well.  Another good menu choice is the smothered rib-eye with onions, Swiss cheese and assorted sauces. It comes with choice of fries or rice pilaf.  I also recommend the baby back ribs as I like the tangy, smoky flavor of the sauce that has a bit of a bite.  The ribs were tender and melted in the mouth.  For dessert, you won’t go wrong with the Crème Brulee.  
       If you fill out a birthday form, they will send you a coupon for a free entree on your birth month as well as a semi-regular chatty newsletter from Matt (who also hangs out at the restaurant regularly). The newsletter often includes a cash off coupon and occasionally shares recipes for food served in the restaurant.  Matt Denny's advertises catering, and though I haven't experienced it, I would definitely give them a try if I had such a need. Now that the weather is warm, they have live music on the patio during our summer weekends which is very enjoyable.
        The service is always friendly and you almost feel like you are at Cheers like the old television show. So, if you are looking for a comfortable, casual, friendly, "Cheers" like setting, with atmosphere but not overly crowded.... Give Matt Denny's a try. Chances are you will see someone there you know, because this is a place where soon.. "everybody will know your name.”  Matt Denny’s is open Sunday through Wednesday  with kitchen hours from 11:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m, and the  bar closes at 10:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday the kitchen hours are 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the bar closes at 11:00 to 12:00 p.m. Visit the website at www. mattdennys.com for more information

Very nice sushi bar at Ichiban Japanese Restaurant

Restaurant Reviews  in and around the San Gabriel Valley and the greater Los Angeles area.
Updated frequently with new recommendations.

Enjoy  al fresco dining on the lovely patio

Let's Eat Out

At

Mint Leaf Indian Restaurant

2535 E. Washington Blvd.  Altadena

626-460-8776

Let's Eat Out


At


Sierra Fusion


120 W. Sierra Madre  Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA

(626) 355-3030

Classic New York Steak

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Clearman’s Steak and Stein restaurant has been around for over 40 years and for many families it is a multi-generation dining tradition.  Steak and Stein is the first of the Clearman’s restaurants and in many people’s opinion, the best of all their restaurants. Located conveniently off the 605 freeway on Whittier Blvd, this restaurant once served a major industrial manufacturing area that has disappeared but the restaurant is legendary and still enjoys popularity with many faithful patrons who list the steaks as “the best anywhere.”

Steak and Stein is styled in typical steakhouse décor with dark paneling, brick walls, dim lighting and the charm of a circle fireplace. It is a comfort to discover that warm and intimate restaurants like this are still around, serving up classic satisfying and delicious meals. Here they will still flambre’ your delicious steak table side in the traditional way that has been long forgotten by most steak houses. So take a walk down memory lane back to a more relaxed dining experience with good tableside service, excellent food, abundant portions and classic cuisine and visit the Steak and Stein restaurant.

Start your dining experience with an appetizer such as jumbo shrimp with cocktail dipping sauce: bacon wrapped scallops; teriyaki steak tips; friend calamari; coconut shrimp or shrimp diablo. Clearman’s also offers some signature salads such as Blue cheese wedge with a 5 oz, filet mignon; a Cobb salad with chopped chicken or steak; a grilled chicken Caesar; grilled salmon salad; and a 7 oz. New York strip steak salad. These are all entrée salads and perfect for a hearty lunch or supper especially when accompanied with the famous Clearman’s garlic cheese bread.

All Clearman’s dinners are served with salad, garlic cheese bread, their famous house-made red cabbage slaw, a baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and cheese sauce and batter fried onions.  From the Clearman’s Classic Menu, you can choose half a chicken broiled or fried; freshly ground steak; or the combination platter with scallops, chicken and beef brochette.   The Select Combinations include scallops and steak; prawns and steak; crab legs and steak; and steak and lobster making perfect “surf and turf” dinners. The steaks for the combinations include a choice of ground steak or top sirloin or you can upgrade to a rib eye, filet mignon, or New York steak.   If you are a seafood lover, then you have your choice of grilled salmon; mahi mahi, broiled halibut, jumbo shrimp, fried scallops, King crab legs or Rock lobster. The Signature Entrees include as 10 filet mignon; a 16 oz. boneless rib eye; a 12 oz. New York strip; a rack of pork baby back ribs;  beef en brochette; and 9 oz. Steak and Stein special steak. 

My husband ordered the 10 oz. filet mignon and I chose the grilled jumbo prawns so we could create our own “surf and turf” combinations.  Our friends did the same thing but ordered the grilled halibut to go with their filet. Our entrees were accompanied by a fresh salad with choice of house-made dressings, very large baked potatoes that we could dress with all the trimmings: sour cream, butter, chives and Clearman’s famous cheese sauce.  The side of the famous red cabbage coleslaw was delicious and a perfect complement to our meals.  I can honestly say that the filet mignon was probably the best steak I have had in a long time.  It was perfectly grilled to medium rare, flavorful and very tender.  The grilled shrimp were also very good and not overcooked and the halibut was moist and flaky.   All in all, the entrees we ordered and shared were delicious!  We shared a chocolate sundae for dessert with the table and left the restaurant over fed but very satisfied with take home left overs for the next day.


This is a fun place to dine and you can count on your food being well prepared and delicious. All the steaks are grilled over charcoal which definitely enhances the flavors. I will definitely return for the filet as it is out of this world.  I also want to try the grilled New York steak.  You definitely want to visit the amazing grill room as you will leave amazed as to how the grill master cooks all the steaks to the perfect temperature without mixing up the orders…He is masterful and obviously excellent at his job.   There is good reason why Clearman’s has earned the reputation for excellence and has enjoyed such a long and celebrated time in the restaurant business.

Steak and Stein is open Monday thru Thursday 11:30-9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30-10:00pm and Sunday 10:00-9:00pm. Reservations are recommended.  For more information visit the website at clearmansrestaurants.com.

 

It is always great to revisit a restaurant that continues to serve quality cuisine year after year!  Angela Wu’s Sesame Grill is definitely such a consistent restaurant making it a good place to lunch or dine.  To get there, take the Huntington Drive exit off the 210 freeway and turn right onto Huntington Drive, going west.  Sesame Grill is located in the strip mall across the street from The Derby Restaurant and next door to a shop called Bear Essentials but don’t be turned off by the location.  It looks completely unassuming from the outside.  But once you get inside, it becomes obvious that it isn't a typical strip mall type of restaurant.

The Sesame Grill offers delicious food at affordable prices and has the sophisticated taste of the Pacific Rim cuisine. There is everything you would expect at a fusion restaurant, a true blending of cultural tastes. The décor is funky art deco that is quite original for a restaurant featuring French, Italian, California, and Asian fusion food. The overall ambiance has a sleek and modern feeling, kind of Ikea-clean, with paintings on the walls to brighten up the room.  The menu offers a variety of adventurous dishes more often found in Westside bistros than other restaurants in San Gabriel Valley.

            After you are seated, warm complimentary house-made rolls arrive with butter. One has to be careful not to eat too many as they are addicting. There is a new prix fixe menu for lunch that is a terrific value. You have a choice of a first course selection any entree and a dessert for $19.95 per person.  First course choices include: jumbo lump crab cake, yellow fin tuna tartar, fresh green salad or vegetable soup.  Entrée choices include: 36 hour braised shot ribs; grilled prawns, beef tenderloin medallions, and the fish of the day.  If you don’t choose the daily special menu, the regular menu at Sesame Grill offers a good selection of appetizers and entrees all at reasonable prices.  Sesame Grill has a nice wine list featuring some of the most popular and well-known California vintages at premium prices or you can bring a bottle of your favorite vintage for a $5 corkage fee.  Sesame Grill is truly one of these hidden gems and will not be a disappointment! Reservations are recommended as Sesame Grill is not a large restaurant and gets very crowded so please call (626) 821-0880. There is free parking in the front lot.

Let’s Eat Out


At


Min’s Kitchen


1040 Foothill Blvd. La Canada


(818) 790-6074.

Very tasty Salt Cod Fritters

Ichiban Japanese Restaurant, located in a strip mall offers convenient parking as well as good Japanese cuisine.  The restaurant has a wonderful sushi bar with terrific offerings that include not only sushi and sashimi  but some very unique and creative rolls.  Some of the most popular include the Red Dragon Roll (spicy tempura, avocado, and spicy tuna); The Spider Crab roll (soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber, and crab meat); Shrimp Tempura (shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber) and the Tiger Eye roll (spicy tuna, tempura bits, shrimp, avocado).  If you want an appetizer to go with your sushi, try the popcorn lobster or the sesame chicken bits.  Both are delicious.  I like the fried calamari too as it is crisp and very tasty.  During the Happy Hour, guests can order from the appetizer menu as well as the sushi menu at bargain prices.  Happy Hour is 6:00pm-8:00pm Sunday through Thursday so it can make a nice light supper.

Another wonderful benefit offered at Ichiban restaurant is their combination lunch specials.  Combinations include salad, miso soup, rice, choice of entrée: teriyaki chicken, teriyaki beef, salmon, tempura shrimp or tempura vegetables.  This is a very popular luncheon place so it is a good idea to make reservations and take advantage of a delicious lunch that is a true bargain.

Some other combination offered at Ichiban are the Special dinners: The Happy Boat Dinner for 2+ includes miso soup, salad, rice, chicken teriyaki, shrimp and vegetable tempura, sesame chicken, a California roll and seasonal fruit.  The Family Boat Dinner includes beef and chicken teriyaki, shrimp and vegetable tempura, baked mussels, sesame chicken, a vegetable roll, a California roll and seasonal fruit. Both of these dinners are an excellent bargain for the family.

Also available are two Habachi dinners: Beef, Chicken and Shrimp with sautéed vegetables served on a sizzling platter with rice and miso soup and  a seafood combination that includes shrimp, white fish, green mussels, scallops, soft shell crab, sautéed vegetables served on a sizzling hot platter along with rice and miso soup.

On the regular menu, you will find some of the more unusual Asian dishes: Curry Udon or Soba (Curry sauce and noodles in a hot broth):Nabeyaki Udon ( shrimp and vegetable tempura, chicken, fish cakes, egg and green onion in a hot soup; oven baked green mussels on the half shell with mayonnaise and green onions; oven baked octopus with spicy sesame sauce; broiled butterfish marinated with sake lees and topped with radish sprouts; Japanese style deep fried chicken (chicken Karaage); Tonkatsu ( breaded deep-fried pork cutlet with Tonkatsu sauce); Curry rice with either chicken or sliced beef; and a traditional Sukiyaki with Napa cabbage, carrots, onion, tofu and udon noodles topped with either sliced beef or tender chicken. Don’t forget to order the Green Tea tempura ice cream special dessert…it is wonderful!


Enjoying a meal at Ichiban is like being transported to Japan for a culinary experience.  It is a fun restaurant with lots of menu choices so there is definitely something for everyone.  Reservations are requested to insure your dining experience is up to par.  Please call 818-952-7633.  

Coconut Tres Leches Cake


Racion is the place for tapas in Pasadena.  It has received rave reviews and in my opinion, well deserved.  The tapas are basically Basque inspired with international influences apparent. Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood, and inland cuisine with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and legumes, and freshwater fish and salt cod. The French and Spanish influence is strong also. Basque cuisine has been quick to absorb new ingredients and techniques from new settlers and from their own trade and exploration links. They have embraced the potato and the capsicum, used in hams, sausages and recipes.

Racion owners, Loretta Peng and Teresa Montano are both experienced in the restaurant business. They met while working at the Border Grill on the mobile catering operation. Peng is an experienced restaurant operator who has launched three restaurants for Le Pain Quotidien in Los Angeles and a mobile catering operation for Border Grill, also in Los Angeles. Prior to her foray into management, Loretta held a Chef de Partie position at the two-Michelin starred Bouley in NYC.

 Teresa Montaño is a talented chef who has led several high-performing culinary teams to rave food reviews both in LA and NYC. She is driven by sustainability in farming and cooking, and has held positions at the Vital Zuman Organic Farm in Malibu and at Tender Greens, the casual organic restaurant. As Sous Chef for Food Network stars Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Teresa led the start-up of the Border Grill Truck and earned an internship at restaurant Nora in Washington DC. She then went on to serve as Executive Chef for COLORS in NYC. She attended the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles for Culinary Management.

Ración is their inspiration of what a good Tapa’s bar should be and while some of the dishes cleave fairly closely to the originals, much of the food is inspired by, rather than exactly duplicating, Basque cooking. They traveled to San Sebastian, a culinary Mecca of sorts to experience authentic tapas and continued their chef’s tour of Spain exploring Madrid, Barcelona, and Sitges. They visited local farmers' markets, fish markets, bakeries, and supermarkets and were amazed that they found real fresh nutritious food everywhere.  No processed junk food like here in the United States. Now their goal is to bring the same quality and variety to the menu at Racion.

 

Paul Martin's American Grill Main Dining Room

The refreshing Spring roll.

Paul Martin’s American Grill, founded by Brian Bennett and Paul Fleming, (the latter of namesake Fleming’s steakhouse and P.F. Chang’s fame) was modeled after “the kind of restaurant that everyone wishes they had in their neighborhood.” That serves “made from scratch” food using high quality ingredients. Their motto is “Seasonal & Delicious” so on the menu you will find only the best seafood, free-range and natural meats and poultry, artisan cheeses and cured meats. They also offer artisanal cocktails, craft beers, and over 100 wines by the glass or bottle.  The décor has a great mixture of classic, cozy, casual and yet dressy ambience with raised community tables around the bar and individual seating at the sides.  There is a nice patio to enjoy as well.  The noise level can get fairly loud when the restaurant is busy as it is quite an open space.

We visited Paul Martin’s a couple weeks ago and enjoyed a lovely lunch with our “wine group.” For starters we sampled the Calamari and the Mushroom Soup.  I honestly believe that the mushroom soup was probably the best I have ever eaten.  It was filled with different kind of mushrooms and was very flavorful and delicious.  In fact, I can’t wait to return to the restaurant to have another bowl of this great soup! The Vegetable Summers Rolls were filled with crisp vegetables and perfectly seasoned.  For entrees, we enjoyed a Cobb Salad with Chicken; the Bistro Burger; Turkey Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries; the Grilled Steelhead Salmon Sandwich; the Pork Enchiladas Verde; the Steak and Bacon Tacos and the Blackened Pacific Redfish.  Everyone was pleased with their entrees.  We had excellent service as well.   

 On the dinner menu, I was pleased to discover Fresh Oysters and Salt and Pepper Shrimp on the appetizer section.  For salads the selection was similar to the lunch menu and of course, the delicious mushroom soup is also available.  For entrees you can choose “Brick Chicken,” Braised Shot Ribs; Marinated Skirt Steak; Blackened Rib Eye; Hoisin Pork Medallions; Grilled Mahi; Pork Ribs; and  Fresh Fish Tacos.  Paul Martin’s offers a Monday Night Special that has a choice of entrees and a bottle of wine for two people for $50.  Sounds like a perfect date night!

 This is a popular Happy Hour place from 3 to7 pm. seven days a week. Some interesting menu items are offered in different price categories:  For $5, you can choose from smoked chicken and wings with pesto slaw; street tacos; smoked salmon lettuce cups and chicken on skewers.  On the $9 menu, try the Butcher’s Board with meats and cheese; the smoked salmon or the St. Louis pork ribs.  For $14, you can have the Bistro Burger or the Fish and Chips with fries and choice of craft beer. Beer, wine and cocktails are also grouped into price categories.  Plan on arriving early as it gets crowded.


All in all, Paul Martin’s American Grill is a great addition to Pasadena and fun to visit.  The food is good American cuisine that is seasonal so the current menu is transitioning into the autumn style cuisine which is most appropriate as the days grow shorter and the temperature starts to cool.  Parking is available in the Macy’s parking structure with no charge or on the street. Reservations are suggested.

Let’s Eat Out

At

Shiro Restaurant

1505 Mission Street, South Pasadena

626-799-4774

Lovely dining room at Mint Leaf Indian Restaurant

Charcuterie of Meat and Sausages

The perfectly roasted duck breast

Grilled Salmon

Let’s Eat Out

At
 Cascabel
10717 Riverside Dr
Los Angeles, CA 91602
Toluca Lake
 (818) 927-4210

Taylor's Perfectly prepared prime rib

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Delicious fresh beef carpaccio

Let’s Eat Out

At

Paul Martin’s American Grill

455 S. Lake Ave, #102, Pasadena, CA

(626) 773-7600  

Famous salads and garlic bread

Classic  Basque Omelet

I remember when Min’s owner, Toi Vanasin, started her restaurant as a tiny place with aged green booths, broken springs and a short counter in 1977, and introduced the local community to her delicious Thai cuisine.  Today, not many people remember the rough beginnings of this extremely good Thai restaurant.   Min’s Kitchen has expanded and remodeled over the years with extensive improvements including a wonderful 300 sq. ft. kitchen and a new dining room.  The quality of the cuisine at Min’s is superior to most Thai restaurants as it is 100 percent authentic. Min’s makes all the popular Thai dishes that are everyone’s favorites using only the freshest high quality ingredients. The Tom Kai (hot and sour coconut cream soup with shrimp or chicken) is quite spicy but is packed with flavor. Many people swear by this soup as an excellent cure for a “hangover!”  Another outstanding dish is Mee Grob (sweetened crispy fried rice noodles).  No other Thai restaurant makes Mee Grob as good as Min’s in my opinion.  In fact, because it is a bit difficult and time consuming to prepare, most Thai restaurants do not have it on their menu. The Thai toast is also a lovely appetizer with a blend of shrimp and chicken that is spread over bread, deep-fried and served with cucumber salad.  For a striking presentation, the shrimp in a golden basket is beautiful as well as flavorful.  The Larb chicken salad is refreshingly spiced with mint, onions, lime juice, and crushed peppers and the Nam Sod, ground chicken breast mixed with onions, shredded ginger, lime juice and chili, is delicious.  Another outstanding favorite entrée at Min’s Kitchen is Pad Thai noodles with pork and shrimp wrapped in a thin egg omelet and topped with fresh crisp bean sprouts.

Other entrees to try include spicy roasted duck , BBQ chicken, Pad Gra Tiem ( for garlic lovers which is slices of marinated meat cooked with lots of garlic pepper sauce) and Pad Plik King,  (fresh string beans sautéed with your choice of beef, chicken or pork.)  For seafood, the curry mussels are excellent and the lemon prawns are also very good. You can order your food hot, spicy, mild or medium to fit your taste. There is a selection of Thai beers and beverages to enhance your meal. There are wonderful combination platters so guests can sample a variety of Thai dishes at the same time, something not often found in other Thai restaurants.  The lunch specials are very reasonable and a great way to learn more about the Thai cuisine. There is good reason why Min’s Kitchen has been voted Glendale’s best Thai restaurant by the News Press and named the Tri-city area’s best Asian restaurant by the California Restaurant Association. When you come to Min’s Kitchen, be prepared to enjoy a delicious and authentic Thai dining experience feasting on mouthwatering cuisine in a beautifully appointed well decorated restaurant.  

Min’s Kitchen is open Tuesday-Thursday 11:00 am-9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday, 11:00 am-10:00 pm. and Sunday 12:00 pm-9:00 pm.  There is parking behind the restaurant or on the street.  Take out is also available. All major credit cards are accepted.  For reservations, call (818) 790-6074.  For more information or place an order for take-out, please visit the website at www.minsrestaurant.com.

 

 

Classic chicken kebob served with traditional rice and vegetables

House made Minestrone di Verdue

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Green tea tempura ice cream

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The fabulous London Broil..Delicious

My favorite, .Fusili Bolognese

I am a big fan of good Italian cuisine so I was very excited to learn that one of my favorite Italian chefs, Fausto, had opened a restaurant in nearby Montrose.   I couldn’t wait to try it as I have always thought his sauces were excellent and his pasta creations among the best I have every tasted.  Fausto was formerly the head chef at Gail’s restaurant in Pasadena where I met him several years ago and had the opportunity to interview him.  Fausto hails from Bologna, Italy so northern Italian cuisine is his specialty.

Visiting Trattoria Allegria is a delightful experience.  The restaurant is new and freshly appointed.  I especially like the patio/balcony with many potted herbs for use in the kitchen and some miniature citrus trees…Dining al fresco is always my choice so of course, I enjoyed this experience with a brief view of the San Gabriel Mountains, the hills north of Glendale and being surrounded by fresh scented herbs and citrus. 

Trattoria Allegria offers lovely salads that are always very fresh with only the best ingredients. The soups are made daily and the Minestrone di Verdure of seasonal vegetables is always very good and quite healthy.   There is also a “Zuppa del Giorno” ( soup of the day) that is freshly made. If appetizers are on your list of favorites, I recommend the Burrata Pugliese, the wonderful fresh mozzarella Burrata cheese served on arugula with roasted tomato, bell pepper, and avocado and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.  I also like the Cacciuco alla Livornese with mussels, clams and shrimp in a spicy tomato garlic broth perfect for dipping bread.

For an entrée, I love pasta with Bolognese sauce so of course, I had to order it!  The Bolognese is served over fusilli pasta and features a mixture of ground beef and pork in a rich marinara sauce.  With freshly grated parmesan cheese, you can’t beat it for flavor.  I believe it is one of Fausto’s best dishes.  Also delicious in the Linguine Mare, clams or mussels with garlic, olive oil, and sprinkled with parsley. Another favorite of mine is the Fettucine Carbonara sinfully rich with Italian bacon, in a traditional egg and cream sauce.  Other wonderful entrees include Pollo Piccata, a tender chicken breast in a white wine, lemon and caper sauce.  Also popular is the Pollo Parmigiana of breaded chicken breast topped with fresh tomato ragu, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.  For beef lovers, try the Bistecca Toscana featuring pan sautéed New York steak, peppered, and served with a red wine reduction sauce or the Tagliata alle Erbe, flank steak sliced with an herb sauce served over spinach and topped with parmesan cheese.  There is also a delicious grilled salmon with a green olive and sun dried tomato tapenade that is difficult to pass up. 

For dessert, you must try the Siciliana Cannoli as it is always very special.  Also delicious is the Tiramisu or the Panna Cotta. They are classic Italian desserts and at this restaurant, you know they are authentic and a real treat.  I can’t say enough complimentary things about this new restaurant. With Fausto as head chef, the food is guaranteed to be outstanding.  It is popular so reservations are recommended. 

Camillo and Is wife Amelia always welcome guests warmly!

Ahi tuna tartare..the perfect starter!

Flavorful Jidori Chicken with Kale chips

The Mediterranean diet is very popular and is being recommended by physicians because it is a very healthy diet and supplies all the necessary food groups.  Recently restaurants featuring this type of cuisine have become more plentiful and popular in the San Gabriel Valley.  One of my favorite restaurants is Phoenicia in Glendale which features Lebanese cuisine.  Phoenicia is owned and operated by Ara Kalfayan who previously owned Kix café.  Phoenicia is a spacious, fully redecorated interior and a dramatic exterior extension including a delightful patio area. Ara’s wife, Sofi expertly handles the kitchen and produces memorable dishes traditional to the Mediterranean cuisine. It includes an abundance of starches, whole grain, fruits, vegetables, poultry, and meat. It also includes copious amounts of garlic and olive oil, often seasoned by lemon juice which are are typical flavors found in the Lebanese diet. Most often foods are either grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil; butter or cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw or pickled as well as cooked.

When we dine at Phoenicia, we like to start with a variety of appetizers or Mezze.  Phoenicia offers combinations of  Mezze that are perfect to share with your family or group.  A typical mezze will consist of an elaborate variety of hot and cold dishes and may include salads, such as the tabbouleh and fattoush, together with dip such as hummus, or baba ghanoush, and kebbeh, and basturma,.  There are usually stuffed grape leaves and assorted pickles along with cheese and falafel. The Mezza for four is a great sampling of some of the most popular dishes. You have to be careful not to overeat as the main course is definitely worth saving room to enjoy.

 For an entrée, you can choose the traditional chicken, beef or lamb kabob which is grilled perfectly.  I also like the grilled seasoned ground meat called Beef Kafti.  If you want to sample the different grilled meats, I suggest ordering the mixed grill combination. If you enjoy seafood, the chef de cuisine will prepare the fish to your order just the way you prefer, whether it is pan fried, grilled or oven baked. All seafood is served with appropriate sauces and comes with French Fries.  Seafood selections include:  shrimp sauté, shrimp Kebab, sea bass (grilled or fried )and crispy fired smelt. Pita bread is served with the meal and can be used instead of a fork. Rice is the traditional accompanying starch. Arak, an anise-flavored liqueur, is the Lebanese national alcoholic drink and is usually served with the traditional convivial Lebanese meals. Another drink is Lebanese wine. For dessert you can sample a traditional Lebanese sweets such as baklava or enjoy fresh fruits, dried apricots or roasted nuts such as pistachio.

There is entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights with music and a belly dancer.  Phoenicia also offers catering and some banquet service but I suggest calling the restaurant for more information.  Come and enjoy a dining adventure and discover excellent Lebanese cuisine at Phoenicia.