One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and six plus one to go!
Starting Sunday, April 30, the third Pasadena Restaurant Week (actually a six-day event) gets started. Once it ends on Friday, May 5, partakers will have one and a half days to fast before the second Masters of Taste Food and Beverage Festival takes place on Sunday, May 7, at the Rose Bowl.
As I’ve said every time I’ve written about one of the multi-day dining opportunities, be they our local Pasadena Cheeseburger and Restaurant weeks or the more widespread and longer semi-annual dineLA happenings, preparations must be made. I double my treadmill time, peruse websites to check out participants’ offerings, print the most interesting, compare “special” prices to make sure discounts are real, then fill my “dance card” for as many lunches and dinners as I can stomach.
So far, the 2017 Pasadena Restaurant Week website lists some 25 participants. Among them are lots of returning favorites: Bistro 45, Cameron’s, Celestino, Kathleen’s, Green Street Restaurant, Sushi Roku, Ruth’s Chris, Central Park, Maison Akira, El Cholo, POP, Pie ‘n Burger, Vertical Wine Bistro, Plate 38, Sorriso/Bar Celona, The Terrace at the Langham Huntington, Du-par’s, Dog Haus and Del Frisco’s.
Also some first-timers: Edwin Mills by Equator, Alma de la Rosa, Fleming’s Steak House, Madeline Garden Bistro and True Food Kitchen. Now Edwin Mills by Equator and Madeline aren’t newcomers to Pasadena, and Alma de la Rosa is a redo of Robert Simon’s A/K/A with a new emphasis on Latin flavors. Only Fleming’s and True Food Kitchen are recent arrivals to the city. Since I’ve been to neither, nor to Alma nor Equator since they revamped menus, and only once to Madeline shortly after it opened (a poor choice), I’d really like to visit all five.
But as I write 10 days prior to the event, none of these eateries (nor most others) has posted menus, although there is a one-sentence statement by Equator that it “is preparing special drinks at very special prices along with a happy hour menu.” Even more annoying are leftover postings of entries in January’s Cheeseburger Week competition or even last autumn’s SIP-tember cocktail competition. And one menu is actually dated 2015. Sorry Pasadena Chamber, this is a joke!
Even without some expected updates by the Sunday, I won’t be all dressed up with no place to go. There are some real goodies among the few menus already online! Check out The Terrace’s $25 two-course lunch whose choices include crispy Brussels sprouts with maple soy glaze and toasted almonds, lomo saltado with fingerling potatoes, tomatoes and red onions over rice with aji verde and caramel apple cheesecake with caramel popcorn ice cream, candied nuts and calvados anglaise.
Equally tempting are Sushi Roku’s $20 three-course lunch with choices such as fried calamari with charred jalapeño glaze, sea bass sliders with panko crust and tonkatsu tartar and mini-chocolate volcano with vanilla ice cream and Del Frisco’s $20 two-course lunch with tempting items such as cheesesteak eggrolls, brick chicken with hand-mashed potatoes and (for an extra $4) nutella bread pudding with coffee ice cream and caramel sauce. And I don’t plan to miss out on Kathleen’s $15 two-course lunch which includes their wonderful spinach fettuccine with grilled chicken and mushrooms in tarragon-cream sauce or traditional Cobb salad and either chocolate velvet cream cheese or carrot cake.
Presuming Alma’s, Equator’s, Fleming’s, Madeline’s and True Food’s menus appeal, I’m likely to have consumed at least nine restaurant meals between Sunday and May 5. Ordinarily, this kind of sustained gorging could dissuade me from attending an all-you-can-forage outdoor food and beverage festival in the middle of a football field on what I presume will be a hot Sunday afternoon after only one day’s respite.
However, this isn’t just any eat till you’re replete event. All proceeds from Masters of Taste will be going to support Union Station, our venerable local provider of comprehensive services for the homeless, offering resources to help them achieve productive and stable lives. Their programs include meals, child care, career development, job search support and transitional and permanent housing. If anything could insure that I would selflessly present myself for yet more culinary excess, it’s the thought that my entrance fee would be put to such excellent use.
Almost as likely to guarantee my attendance is the list of participants. Oddly enough, there is little overlap among Restaurant Week and the 33 Culinary Masters; only Celestino and True Food Kitchen are on both rosters. But several other locals will be there, including Alexander’s Steakhouse, Bone Kettle, Bacchus’ Kitchen, Crossings, Little Beast, Magnolia House, Ramen Tatsunoya, The Raymond 1886 and Spireworks. Out of area attendees range from trendy food trucks dispensing burgers and pasta to some of the most elegant, critically acclaimed (and very expensive) brick-and-mortar DTLA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles dining spots.
The Beverage Masters outnumber the culinary masters by five. These 38 will be dispensing everything from boxed water, coconut water, juice, tea, coffee, almond milk and boba to artisan beer, ale, cider and wine, designer gin, vodka, whiskey, mescal and signature cocktails by some of the best mixologists around.
But wait, there’s more! Twelve Sweet Masters are going to be handing out their wares as well: chocolates, ice cream, churros, cupcakes, bundt cakes, cookies and donuts.
Tickets range from general admission of $105 for three hours of gluttonous self-indulgence from 4 to 7 p.m., and VIP admission of $185 with entry at 3 p.m., to various levels of fat-cat Brass sponsorship of $1,500 for two tickets and Gold sponsorship for $25,000 for 20 tickets with admittance at 2 p.m., plus lots of extra perks.
As for me and my mate, I think $185 apiece should buy us adequate time to gawk, gorge and imbibe, raising our blood-alcohol and sugar levels to dangerous heights and knowing it’s all for a wonderful cause.
Remember the advice in Ecclesiastes: “Man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be merry.”
For more details on both of these events see: pasadenarestaurantweek.com