Pasadena: Checking out Small Plates at Racion
Racion has been very well received in Pasadena. I checked it out a few weeks ago, intrigued by their small plates menu which was billed as Spanish and Basque. The intimate restaurant on Green is just far enough from the hustle of the main drag to feel like another world.
We ordered wine to go with our meal. I opted for a glass of Lorinon rioja. It was perfect.
The amuse bouche was a nice and light bite. I was beginning to get even more excited about the meal as I read through the menu and we decided to order an item from each of the sections.
The menu is divided into pintxos which are served on house-made bread, manos (bar snacks), tenedor (tapas) and cuchillo (raciones to share). I tended to think of it as all tapas though each section was properly named. The cuchillo sounded like main entrees but they were still on the smaller side so you may need a few dishes per person to get full. We ended up ordering another dish after we realized the dainty bites weren’t quite enough.
We started with the lengua pintxos. The braised beef tongue was sliced thinly and served open-faced on a thick piece of toast. Pickled onions and honey aioli complemented the bite. I felt like I was eating the most wonderful savory roast beef sandwich. The broad had soaked up a lot of the gravy but because of the thickness of the toast, it didn’t disintegrate. I could have had a whole sandwich like this.
I’m very much obsessed with squid and sausage and so I thought it was genius to stuff sausage into squid. I first had something similar at Lukshon. Racion’s version uses a mild duck sausage. It was good though I think I like Lukshon’s a bit more. Still, Racion’s are so cute. They even look like little dumplings to me.
Here’s a look at the sausage inside the squid.
Sometimes I wonder where does this need for vegetables come from? I don’t like to leave a meal unbalanced and I always go for some veggies. We decided to do the roasted vegetables. They were so delicate. We loved the romesco sauce.
As mentioned, I’m a fiend for pork and I loved that Racion has a daily pork preparation. This evening featured pork tails croquettes. I don’t know what I was expecting when I heard pork tail but croquettes seem brilliant to me. Give me more that fried pork balls, please.
The arroz con gambas or prawns and rice was Racion’s take on paella. We saw many dishes of the prawns go by and knew we had to add to our order. Due to the size of this dish and the calmares rellenos, I wouldn’t really think of these for sharing. We weren’t the only people to confuse these for mains. The table next to us also ordered the calmares rellenos and arroz con gambas and they treated them as individual main courses. Next time we’ll just have to order a few more dishes, charcuterie and perhaps some oysters to make it a true Basque meal.
Lastly, we were given strawberry marshmallows. I didn’t take a picture of the strawberry marshmallows but they were a great way to end our interesting meal at Racion.