Editor’s note: Dine LA Week has returned to Pasadena. No, it’s not Cheeseburger week, kids. That’s in January. Dine LA Restaurant Week takes place twice a year highlighting the diversity of culinary experiences the area has to offer.
There are special lunch and dinner menus at scores of local restaurants throughout Pasadena. During this Fall 2023 event, dine-in restaurants are being featured only. So grab a seat.
Dine out at a participating restaurant, ask for the Dine LA Restaurant Week menu and enjoy.
We’ll be highlighting as many participating restaurants as we can through the “week,” which runs through October 20.
What’s better than having your favorite restaurant have a special lunch and dinner deal? Not much, dear readers.
We visited Mi Piace (“I like it,” in Italian), one of Pasadena’s longtime favorites, to try its Dine LA Restaurant Week menu. Needless to say, we were as thrilled as we had hoped to be by both the food and the service.
As Executive Chef Gil Saulnier explained, in choosing the Dine LA menu, “I always try to think what the client’s going to come here for. So I’m thinking about, I’m going to have to have some seafood. I have to have some mignon or meat, because I know they like it. It’s an Italian restaurant so you have to have that. And even the tuna is not necessarily either French or Italian, but the tuna is a very elegant appetizer.”
Saulnier also pointed out that many of the dishes, such as the risotto, featured fresh truffles, with a little bit of those in the morel sauce.
“This one for the filet mignon,” he explained carefully, “as you can see, is a morel sauce with a very intense demi glaze, like the french sauce, with red wine, pork, all these beautiful items in a reduction. It takes forever to do it.”
Seemed very worth it to us. OK, now on to the menu offerings.
The $65 Dine LA dinner menu features a choice of three appetizers — an imported Italian Burrata, with blood orange, acacia honeycomb, with toasted country bread; the aforementioned bluefin tuna tartare, served with pickled radish, avocado, crème fraîche, nori, tempura, and a soy vinaigrette; and a Wagyu steak tartare, served with capers, Maui onion, shallots, garlic, parsley, and topped with a quail egg.
There are three main course options — Alaskan halibut, with Panko breadcrumbs with parmigiano crust, saffron, and Beurre Blanc; a fresh Maine lobster Perssillad, served with riesling, shallots, red chili, basil, chive, garlic, butter, and and Cojita Elote.
There is also a dry aged prime filet mignon, which is cognac flambéed and served with a Bordeaux fresh morel demi-glaze, and the chef’s special potatoes. The final entree is a black truffle risotto with wild mushrooms, and Reggiano parmigiano.
And now our choices.
My dining partner opted for the Italian Burrata to begin. And it was as delicious as it was elegant. She swooned at the first bite, and the evening was on.
I opted for the blue fin tuna tartare, which is served in a cylinder-shaped poke style with the avocado crème fraîche sitting in a tub like wasabi. But that’s not wasabi. It’s avocado. Big difference.
Both delicious selections were gone almost immediately.
For her main course, my partner chose the black truffle risotto served with the aforementioned wild mushrooms, while I chose the dry aged prime filet mignon. Either dish could easily have been a song. The filet mignon was cooked perfectly as were the vegetables and the potatoes. The black truffle risotto, which is essentially rice cooked over and over and over again, sometimes for as long as an hour, disappeared, with only a few grains left at the bottom of the bowl.
Dessert was Chef Saulnier’s bittersweet Valrhona chocolate crème brûlée, with caramelized walnuts and fleur de sel.
Two Café Americanos finished off the meal, ending it as perfectly as it began.
There’s a reason why Mi Piace has long been one of our favorite Pasadena restaurants, and hey, it’s Dine LA Week. Now you can find out for yourself.
Mi Piace is at 25 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, California. (626) 795–3131. www.mipiace.com.