Raymond 1886: New Chefs, New Menu, Same Cozy Atmosphere

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | 9:20 pm

The Raymond 1886 has always been a favorite of mine. Its cozy cottage and relaxing patios make it a great choice rain or shine, but the menu was getting a little too familiar. Enter Executive Chef Jon Hung and Pastry Chef Alexa Clark with a new dinner menu (they are working on the other menus) and a new viewpoint.

The first thing I noticed about the dinner menu was the large number of starters, anything from an Artisanal Baguette with homemade butters (they change, so ask what is available) to Cedar Planked Broccolini to a Charcuterie Board. “We’re actually moving toward a shared-tapas style menu,” said Chef Hung. But if you like to keep your food to yourself there are plenty of entrees as well.

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Click to enlarge

We began our dinning adventure with two starters, Steamed Blue Mussels for my companion and a Grilled Caesar Salad for me.

The mussels were cooked in a tikka masala sauce and served with hunks of grilled sourdough. I’m not a fan of mussels but I do love tikka masala so I just had to have some of that golden bread dipped in the luscious juices. I have to say it was absolutely awesome. My companion declared the mussels to be tender and he loved the play of the sauce with the ocean flavor of the mussel.

With a smoky-grilled taste and a satisfying crunch, the Grilled Caesar Salad was liberally topped with shaved Parmesan and crispy croutons. The dressing was a delicious juxtaposition of salty anchovies, rich egg yolks, savory olive oil, and tangy vinegar. There’s nothing quite like a good Caesar salad and this was definitely one of the good ones.

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The entree menu offered a diverse selection of meat, poultry and seafood dishes. There’s even a vegetable entree (sweet potato cavatelli) for the non-meat eaters. I chose the Strozzapreti, a type of pasta like cavatelli only longer. Because its kind of rolled it has plenty of creases for the catching sauce which was a rich short rib ragu that was melt in your mouth tender. The richness of the sauce was cut with a citrus gremolata giving the dish a bright citrus note.

My companion went with Roasted Chicken and creamy truffle polenta, maitake mushrooms, fried capers, and preserved lemons. The chicken was perfectly cooked to a tender, juicy, golden brown. While the polenta was a taste sensation of sweet corn and musky truffles and it was truly creamy in taste and texture.

Pastry Chef Alexa Clark has developed a playful assortment of decadent sweets with a taste profile for everybody. There is even a gluten and dairy free choice (Passion Fruit Cashew Custard). “I’ve created desserts that are familiar with customers but they probably wouldn’t make at home,” said Chef Clark.

Chocolate Bavarois appealed to me and the Hazelnut Linzer Tart was my companion’s choice. A delicate pillow of chocolate and cream, the chocolate bavarois was accompanied by sweet Tahitian vanilla ice cream and floral pink peppercorn graham crumble. It’s always a toss-up between rich chocolate and dreamy vanilla, in this dish I got both.

Decorated with edible flowers the Hazelnut Linzer Tart was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Using black currant, cranberry preserves instead of the traditional raspberry, Chef Clark has created a delicious take on the traditional. With citrus crème fraiche and sweet pepitas, the dish touches all the flavor bases.

Blending a traditional setting with a new menu, Chefs Hung and Clark are blending the familiar with the new, the comfortable with the inventive for a refreshed dining experience.

The Raymond 1886 is located at 1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena. For reservations and more information call (626) 441-3136 or visit www.theraymond.com.







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