Pasadena: Dinner at The Raymond
Whenever anyone asks me about my favorite restaurants, I tend to divide them via geography. If I happen to be in Pasadena, I always think about the wonderful meals I’ve had at the Raymond. I recently returned for an outstanding meal and am glad the kitchen and service has kept up and is always consistently good.
We started with oysters and sparkling rose on the patio but quickly moved inside as it was one of those bizarrely windy days plus the clouds were threatening rain. Despite the cold weather, having the timeless combo of delicious slippery oysters with something fizzy was perfect.
I did try one cocktail before dinner. At first glance, the La Divina Comedia is an Old Fashioned cocktail but it’s more complex than that with four spirits including one overproof rum plus a green walnut amaro thrown into the mix. You could do very well with just one of these. Without trying the other drinks on the menu, I can declare this a favorite.
La Divina Comedia – Elijah Craig bourbon, Balvenie Scotch whisky, Hamilton Jamaican pot still black rum, Hamilton 151 overproof demerara rum, noccino, brown sugar, Angostura bitters, orange bitters
We started with a few appetizers including the wild albacore. It may look simple but the fresh fish always makes its case that sometimes you don’t need much to enhance the natural flavors of the product.
We also had the beets salad. This would be a good portion for one but we managed to split it among the four of us rather fairly considering we had what was rapidly a gorge fest.
I just love the name “angry lady sauce.” Despite its fiery name, the mussels weren’t spicy. They were seasoned well, however. Get this dish for the plump mussels.
I’m always in a soup mood and the apple and fennel soup sounded great. Soup isn’t the most photogenic but trust me that it tasted better than it looked.
The table got the burnt carrot salad which I accidentally ate, fell in love and tried some more. Being an anti-carrots person, I discovered I was perhaps too biased against these orange frenemy veggies. Yes, I know they’re good for me but that doesn’t mean I have to like them! It turns out though when you pair it with avocado and a great dressing, anything is possible.
Perhaps the prettiest plate was the mushrooms platter. It looked like it was transferred directly from the forest floor minus the “real” dirt, of course. Being a mushroom fanatic, I didn’t even know where to start first.
Scallops are perhaps one of my greatest seafood guilty pleasures yet I never order them since I’m always after other briny bits. I’m glad someone gave these a whirl which meant I had one all to myself. Wonderful sear, perfect texture.
The Raymond is on trend by offering roasted cauliflower. This is a great dish to share as an appetizer or as an entree for a vegetarian. Or even a meat-eater looking for something different.
Perhaps a decade ago, short ribs appeared on every menu to the point where it seemed over done. Somehow The Raymond has made this dish fresh again with delicate green beans and thinly shaved radish. It’s was definitely a favorite of the night.
Hidden under veggies, the duck winked and seduced with its powerful alluring beauty. The duck was the surprise hit among the meaty dishes of the night. Plus I loved those baby turnips!
Usually when we order lamb, we see tender but tiny lamb chops. I now know there’s a difference and you can have that gamy succulent lamb as big ol’ honkin’ pieces. This is definite a great order for two or if you’re particularly hungry.
We had solid Brussels sprouts. These were appreciated with the onslaught of meat.
I don’t know a single person who doesn’t appreciate mashed potatoes. These were simple, buttery and polished off quickly.
Before braving the chilly night, I did ask for a hot toddy. The Raymond / 1886 bar didn’t disappoint.
We were clutching our stomachs and debated whether we really needed dessert. The apple cake caught my eye and one by one, all of us gave in to the call of our sweet tooth (or in my case, my phantom sweet tooth). It was very nice and reminded me of spice cake. It wasn’t too sweet and just a perfect end to another brilliant meal at The Raymond.
1250 South Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105-3417 — (626) 441-3136
© The Minty 2016