By: CANDICE MERRILL
Published: Thursday, July 28, 2011 | 11:22 AM
There are so many restaurants in Old Pasadena that we tend to forget there are plenty of others that are just as good in other parts of town. Plate 38 is one of those restaurants. Located on the corner of Sierra Madre and Colorado in East Pasadena, Plate 38 is a gem in the chain-laden area.
Owner/Chef Robert Humphreys has created a multi-faceted restaurant that caters to families as well as those who are foot-loose and fancy-free. Although the restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner my companion and I came for the Friday dinner and jazz.
We arrived around 7:30 p.m. to watch the last of families leaving and the sans-child crowd coming in. Jazz performances by local Liela Avila begin at 9:00 p.m. and continue to midnight. There was plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely dinner.
My companion and I began with a generous glass of Ruggereri Prosecco for me and the chef’s special watermelon sangria for him. Plate 38 has a respectable wine and beer list. Most wines by the glass are $7.50 and beers draft and bottled are around $5.50.
We started off with a grilled artichoke which is one of my absolute favorite things but Chef Robert’s has a little twist; included with the lemon caper and garlic aioli is some shaved parmesan cheese. The nuttiness of the cheese was a surprising flavor infusion to an old favorite.
My companion ordered a roasted beet salad with mache, Humboldt Fog, pinenuts, and oranges all dressed with a blood orange vinaigrette and I had the chef’s special for the evening a watermelon salad. The roasted beet salad (which I just had to sample) was delicious with the sweet beets, tangy citrus and creamy goat cheese. The watermelon salad featured tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and kalamata olives all dressed in a lemon-oregano dressing. I loved the play of sweet and salty in this salad. It was perfect for sitting outdoors on a warm summer evening, crisp and juicy.
As an interlude to our dinner we shared a plate of lobster, calamari, mussels and shrimp in a luscious sauce Pernod. The seafood was plated on a savory celery root puree and adorned with fauve beans and squid ink pasta it even had a bit of “sea” foam. What was not to like? All the bounty of the sea, enriched by the land and given a boost by the bottle.
For dinner I ordered the day’s fish: halibut and my companion had the barbeque beef short ribs. The halibut was grilled and served with a mixture of potatoes, greens and Spanish chorizo that was a flavor-infusion to the halibut’s mild taste. The beef short ribs on the other hand were all big bold tastes. The first coming from Chef’s house-made bourbon bbq sauce which I told him he should bottle. A lot of intense flavors came from that schmear on the plate. The ribs were accompanied by grilled corn on the cob and a crispy apple jicama slaw. All the flavors of summer on one plate.
Did I hear someone mention dessert? Well someone did (I think it was me). For that most essential finish to a meal my companion and I shared a brownie ice cream sandwich. Two scoops of ice cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce and studded with fresh fruit adorned the house-made brownie. Was it good? Seriously do you need to ask-YES!
Throughout parts of our meal we enjoyed the dulcet sounds of Liela Avila and her jazz band. And when we finished we enjoyed a leisurely glass of wine, while sitting out on Plate 38’s covered patio.
Rejoice East Pasadena, Plate 38 is a great addition to your ever-growing assortment of enjoyable restaurants. If you live in San Marino it’s just a short drive up Sierra Madre Boulevard.
Plate 38 is located at 2361 E. Colorado Blvd. They are open Monday: from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Happy hour is served daily from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. and features $2.00 of all appetizers, beer and wine. Jazz is played Friday nights from 9:00 p.m. – midnight. For more information call (626) 793-7100 or log onto www.plate38.com.