Classic fish and chips Photo by Evans Vestal Ward

Very playable

Rose Bowl restaurant brings cuisine to the green at Brookside

By Dan O'Heron 04/07/2011

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Golfers, swimmers, bikers, riders, joggers, walkers, dog walkers, hardballers, softballers and soccer players in the Arroyo Seco now have one delight in common: a very nice place to eat at an updated Rose Bowl Restaurant. 
 
Owing to the vitality of the alliteration from all of the “ers” in its customer base — and with expectations of attracting hungry people from all over – operators are thinking about dropping “Rose Bowl” from the restaurant’s name. Their reason? “Rose Bowl” might denote — especially to outsiders — an association mainly with football fans. (If you asked me, I’d say “Brooksider’s Café” would be an apt replacement.) 
 
Based on what I’ve eaten, whatever the name, the restaurant should be a hit. This is not just another place where you grab a little something, then move on. Prepared with fine ingredients in excruciating detail, I’m inclined to think of Executive Chef Steven Banbury’s dishes as the silk sheets of American comfort food. 
 
For breakfast, the buttered, brandied and brown-sugared caramelized banana French toast is a sweet wake-up call. 
 
For lunch, the restaurant’s classic club sandwich has been upgraded with thickly sliced house-made bread. And summer salads come pebbled with candied pecans and include chunks of chicken breast nestled in baby greens, unctuous of a tartly sweet ginger and honey mustard dressing. 
 
A new Italian beef sandwich — dripping with Chicago-style sweet and hot peppers — is big and juicy enough to require a two-handed grip with elbow pads under each arm. Its taste will make ordinary “hero” worshipers change sides. If that doesn’t make your day, their fish and chips will. Butter-battered, the bites of the firm and lean flesh of Atlantic cod are made audibly crisp with coarse panko bread crumbs. 
 
Hot dogs are another fan favorite, with unique combos like Chicago sausage with sautéed apples on a sweet Hawaiian roll. 
For dessert, try chocolate pie — the answer to any chocolate-loving child’s dreams. Got milk?
 
These days, items appear as specials on an evolving new menu that won’t be inscribed until the day after an Easter Sunday special brunch. At the $29.99 (children under 12, $12.99) brunch, you’ll get your money’s worth from a huge array of goodies. Start with a host 
of traditional breakfast favorites — plus Eggs Benedict and that glorious French toast — and seasonal salad selections, then finish with chocolate-covered strawberries and other dulcifying pastries.
 
In between, while sipping mimosas, more comfort food: pillows of sweet cheese blintzes, juicy slabs of hand-carved roast beef and glazed ham, plus grilled salmon, each complete with all the etceteras.
 
Chef Banbury, who had served as chef de cuisine at the prestigious Monarch Beach Golf Club at the St. Regis in Dana Point, said his goal at Brookside “is to have a public course that lives up to private standards.”
 
The restaurant is operated by American Golf Corp., one of the world’s largest golf management companies with 110 premier private, resort and public courses. Food and Beverage Director Karen LuKanic — with stints as senior director responsible for food service development at LA LIVE and the 02 in London, and as a vice president of Wolfgang Puck Catering — hopes to burnish her glowing resume in Pasadena. 
 
“I look at Brookside more like Central Park than a golf course,” said LuKanic. “Certainly, we aim to serve great food to our golfers, but also satisfy the many guests who visit the Rose Bowl to exercise, relax and those who participate in weddings, birthday parties, award ceremonies and many other events that happen at our restaurant.”
 
In one way, LuKanic will be putting the cart before the course at Brookside. One special cart, dolled-up by wheeler Maria Flores, is outfitted with ice chests and cups. Going bumpity-bump all over the course — much to the delight of the average duffer, who seldom eats on an empty stomach — Flores stops only when hailed to pour cold beers or mix fancy drinks. Just in case, there are also sandwiches and chips.
 
Cruising the picturesque surroundings, lush with thousands of yards of green grass set against a backdrop of rolling hills, Flores sometimes happens onto a bad scene. Picture the golfer whose ball just thonked off a sturdy oak and caromed into a hiding place. Cursing the bucolic atmosphere with vine-ripened epithets, he’ll cool off when the cart pulls up and Flores pours a cold one. 
Later, when his partner three putts and calls out, “damn, another two,” Flores will be there for him as well. 

Rose Bowl Restaurant at Brookside Golf Club
1133 Rosemont Ave.,Pasadena
(626) 577-4497/
(626) 795-0631
americangolf.com

 

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