Cue tip

Barney's Beanery renews Q's Billiard Club

By Dan O'Heron 02/22/2007

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These days at Barney's Beanery, you can fill both plates and pockets: The old Q's Billiard Club has been remodeled and reopened upstairs.

This is not the "nightclub dancing" Q's of 18 months ago that was velvet-roped and security-guarded to restrain the mobs outside. This is an elite pool hall for exclusive use by players who know how to leave a cue ball in a safe position.

At the top of the stairs above the dining rooms, there's a large oil painting of a woman holding a pool cue. Full-bodied and barely dressed, as though she had just finished posing for Rubens, her stick points to meandering rooms that include 10 new pool tables — the authentic kind with elephant legs — plus drapery, antique mirrors, a cocktail bar with adjoining patio deck and padded furniture to witness the matches or catch worldwide sports action on multiple high-definition TVs.

Barney's Beanery
99 E. Colorado Blvd.
Old Pasadena
(626) 405-9777
Full bar/billiard club

Barney's kitchen celebrates the club's reopening (games in play Thursday through Sunday) with scores of new items. With more than 700 entries already splashed across the 12-page tabloid menu, chefs must be going crazy over adding things like Kobe beef burgers, Cajun shrimp or smoked salmon Benedict, lox platters, Irish nachos (potatoes instead of tortilla chips) and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches with marshmallow and banana, rolled in frosted flakes.

Eat up. Rack 'em up. But don't bet with guys named Jack the Hat and be careful at the bar with a drink called 17 Days in the Crack House.

SQUARE MEAL — If you're bored with eating lunch from Styrofoam under a tree in the park, or next to a potted plant at the office, get over to the new MINX Restaurant & Lounge (300 Harvey Drive, Glendale (818) 242-9191) and sit amidst a thicket of exclamation points surrounding gourmet lunch box specials. Packed by James Beard-honored Chef Joseph Antonishek, four-square box platters, ranging from $12 to $19, are packed with fine tasters like filet mignon crusted in cocoa nibs and hazelnuts, plus mellow Spanish manchego cheese and salad and dessert inspirations.

CURRY FAVOR — With Yeti stomping around Pasadena City Hall on these ice-cold nights, A Taste of Bangkok (924 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 449-6409) comes to your rescue with a new roasted duck curry. In it, slowly cooked morsels of duck stew and glow in an amber wave of Thai curry gravy, bobbing around with pineapple chunks, bamboo shoots, carrot slices and cherry tomatoes. The curry sauce is made from piquant Thai red chiles, garlic, lemongrass and ginger-peppery galanga root. Topped with shavings of hot, savory serrano peppers and the uplifting kick of fresh basil, the $11.95 dish strikes a balance of heat between jingle and jangle.

UPPER CRUST    While Avanti's and Manny's in Pasadena, and Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock, may score the most applause around here for pizza toppings, it's Highland Park's Folliero's Pizza & Italian Food (5566 N. Figueroa St.; (323) 254-0505) that arguably has the best crust. By ordering simple cheese pizza, not top-heavy with fillings that overwhelm texture and taste, I found the shell audibly crisp, but not dry, and sweet, but not cloyingly so. I learned their flour is mixed each morning by 72-year-old Tony Folliero. But how? Folliero's daughter, Titina, denies he brings in New York City tap water; could he be using the soft wheat flour that makes great biscuits? "No comment."

A colleague at the Weekly, Ellen Biasin, who admits to having no limit to the vigor of her appetite for especially good things, said she likes to take home the cheese shell and add her own fillings. At $3.95 for a 10-inch cheese, she can't beat the price.

MARATHON — Carbohydrates would have loads of work to do to get me in shape to run again in the LA Marathon. But on the eve of the event, March 3, I plan to warm up with participants and other fellow travelers at a gourmet high-carb dinner at Blue on Blue in the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. The highlight of the pastas to be served at the $65-per-person dinner: piquillo fregola. Served with poached salmon, this Sardinian treat, hand-formed from semolina and water into small pellets, is chewier and more flavorful than couscous.

YOUR TOAST — If you've skipped breakfast and are hungry, but not for regular lunch, the French toast at BrenArt (53 E. Union St., Old Pasadena; (626) 796-7560) suits the occasion. Served on a huge platter, plump slices of eggy toast are topped with strawberries and blueberries (warmed by a soaking in hot sugared water); chunks of cantaloupe and honeydew melon are heaped generously on the side with orange slices and grapes, and coffee's included, all for $8.95.

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