Float Pasadena is located in a quaint little area off lake Ave in Pasadena. The "Burlington Arcade" takes you back to a time when things were much simpler. When children ran around the neighborhoods riding their bikes until the street lights came on, and they returned just in time for moms pot roast to be served. Float, being a part of this old-fashioned area of Pasadena, does not disappoint with the theme. Their old fashioned soda floats that are curated on a monthly basis, are sure to delight your inner-child on a warm spring afternoon, or even on a brisk winter evening for that matter. They have a very diverse selection of delicious and healthy sandwich options that are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters! The patio seating area offers a cozy escape from the city, all the while being in the middle of it. Sip on your meticulously crafted latte brewed with carefully selected espresso beans from San Fransisco while you escape in the latest "It" novel of the month, or while you catch up with a once-long-lost friend you recently reconnected with on Instagram. Or at the very least, take a photo to share with your followers, as this spot is sure to please and entice your fans with its timeless beauty!
Written by: Staysi Sill
Float Pasadena is located at 380 S Lake Ave Pasadena, Ca 91101
To name a restaurant after a sandwich can be beneficial, and it can be costly. While it effectively advertises a sure thing, you risk alienating those uncompelled by that very sandwich. Typically, I don’t feel drawn to the “French dip” as a practical lunch option, and less so if I have to go back to work afterwards. But Brian Kiepler, the chef behind Harlowe’s French Dip in Pasadena, saw a void in the local lunch scene, and we should count ourselves lucky that he stepped in to fill it.
When Brian first entered the space, he was captivated by its standing identity. The restaurant’s walls, once sickly shades, were framed by beautiful bones of deep, dark wooden beams; hanging clean, fogged fixtures. He honored the bones by setting in sheen paneling, which throws daylight generously around the room. The restaurant feels like a sexy train car, and suddenly, the sandwich feels all the more right in my hand. The “dip” itself has been stigmatized as something of a mess. At Harlowe’s, it’s grown up nicely; a bounty of beautiful broths, all house-made, and sophisticated spreads that dare you to forget the jus that belongs in every bite. The menu feels proud and inspired; and while the dips are front and center, there is so much more to be had.
The deviled egg has seen recent revival as a gastropub staple, due to their versatility and their glorious markup potential on simple, affordable ingredients. I'm shocked to learn that $4 gets me FIVE egg-halves. Their generosity doesn't reflect a weak performance by the eggs – they're delightful. The house mustard - which begins by soaking seeds in La Fin Du Monde Belgian Tripel Ale - brings a lively tang to the mousse, and sings without screaming. There is a light crunch supporting the creamy texture from fine chopped shallots and fresh chives. I'm astonished to learn the price cuts in half at happy hour, which Harlowe's features all day long on Mondays and Sundays.
Our server, Nick, offers us beer pairings with our several courses. Harlowe’s commitment to quality carries to their extensive beer list, sourcing largely local breweries. They also recognize that beers have different weights, and are well to start us off with a light and clean Artifax Lager, paired with their beet salad. Beet salads, like the deviled egg, have soared in popularity, and can be found in almost every gastropub restaurant in Los Angeles. As their deviled egg honors a traditional model, their beet salad carries the commonly paired components of earthy cheese and bright sweet citrus. Where they excel is the distribution of these cooperative flavor profiles, by pulverizing pistachio, and a fine crumble of feta, folding these notes and terrific textures into every bite.
An Almanec Sour Brew is offered with their blue-cheese stuffed dates. While I'm grateful to see the punchy bully blue cheese softened with a drizzle of honey, I wonder if it really needs the added sweetness. But the sour cherry notes on the beer, actually brewed of blueberries and spices, gloriously ramps the sweetness into harmony.
Harlowe's is also home to the most tender piece of chicken I've ever tasted. It cooks in its own broth for over two hours, before passing through the buttermilk batter and finishing in the fryer. It's almost a problem, the ease with which the bone slides from the perfect ball of dark meat, as its up to you to retrieve the fibula and kneecap from the golden cavern before curling up the crisp-coated drum meat like an arancini ball. While the house-made (a term I’ll forego, because nothing here isn’t) buttermilk dressing is a more classic accompaniment, the sesame apricot dipping sauce breaks the chicken from its heavy trappings.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Harlowe’s is that nothing plays second fiddle to the other. Each dish has enough to say on its own, and sometimes more than can be justly heard in a single sitting. I’ve tasted four of their dips – beef, pork, lamb, and turkey. All of them are deserving of a second run. The broths are an essential part of the experience, but I’ve eaten half my sandwich by the time I get to all of them. I want nothing overpowering the stunning, inspired, confident spreads.
As I liberally lather each half of my roll with horseradish aioli and the beer-soaked mustard, i try to convince myself that, perhaps, running the steaming jus under my nose will be enough to pull those flavors into a bite that needs no bolstering. I must also remember the fries, perfectly crisp, conservatively seasoned (salt doth not maketh the French fry), and ultimately succumb to stacking them on top of the braised pork meat, seeping with flavor. The crunchy onion ringlets make it onto my turkey dip, which then runs through the juice that once boiled my perfect chicken legs. One hand is always full, as there’s too much to taste - so many textures and flavors to meld and marry. As I sigh into my sandwich, I make the easy call... I’m gonna need the afternoon off.
Written by: Jacob Yana Miller
Harlowe's French Dip is located at 43 E. Union St. Pasadena, Ca 91103
I have both great respect and deep empathy for the grind of chef & owner Robert Humphreys of Plate 38 in Pasadena. As an auteur filmmaker, who enjoys filling free time writing food reviews, I’m well familiar with the desire to nurture all the channels of my different passions. To find the intersection of these passions, living and working from that multi-faceted creative hub, is a tremendous amount of work, and an ever-rewarding one… if you can pull it off.
Hardest is, when asked to provide a summary explanation of the work you’re doing; your heart is constantly in so many places, and you have such appreciation for every petal of your process. How can you celebrate the flower without elaborately addressing all its nuanced beauty and meticulous design? I haven’t found my answer to this question. Robert has tried, and admirably. Their website states that the restaurant offers “5-star casual dining”. It’s a broad spectrum, and Plate 38 exceeds in honoring each end of it.
“Casual” captures the décor – a large TV is tucked between a bountiful selection of bottles; but only one screen, which I count as tasteful, and necessary when catering to a certain crowd. On this night, the final game of the World Series, staff members sport Dodgers shirts, and feature a Wagyu beef hot dog – for those that crave tradition, but prefer not question the quality of what they’re eating.
The restaurant appears bigger outside than it seems once within its refined rustic walls. While it was packed on my exit, it never felt crowded. The room is wrapped in dark, heavy wood and clean brick; wine bottles sit in lighter-toned cubbies next to the bar, in clever but gentle partition. Just a couple days past Halloween, they stayed the appropriate decorations, with minimalist consideration – pumpkins are perched on respective pillars around the patio dining area, no cotton cobwebs threatening our plates. The general aesthetic of the restaurant is gorgeous, while not in a way that would have you question if you’re under-dressed. This further indicates that Robert knows what he’s doing.
We walked in at 5pm, to mostly empty tables, and a crowded bar (it’s clear the restaurant pulls a strong cast of regulars). The happy hour menu provides accessible pricing for a fine variety of eats. Some are elevated classics, including confit chicken hot wings, and an inspired cheese & charcuterie selection, all neatly framed in a dim-sum style check-box menu. I was surprised to find some exciting options for my (principally) vegetarian dining partner, even at happy hour. I didn’t get the chance to experience them, as I couldn’t get past their $1.50 oysters, served with classic horseradish and a zippy ponzu with rough-chopped herbs.
Plate 38 cannot be experienced in a single visit. Some customers could live and die on their burger menu (not from the tiring number of options, but rather a few, exciting takes deserving of such loyalty). It’s not in spite of the classics that Robert simply cannot stop creating new dishes. Every single night, he designs several new specials to feature. What might compel a chef to create that much more work for themselves? Maybe he got an exciting deal on local squash, and couldn’t rest on one way to play with it, invigorated by its listless applications in fall cuisine. Whatever drives him; his constant experimentation is not suffered by a lack of quality control. He is an inexhaustible maestro, with a powerful, impassioned brigade supporting him. Morale is high, and tensions are unseen in the dining room.
I’d checked several items on the happy hour menu when Robert pulled up a chair, and we were blissfully rerouted. He orders us a mixed bag of debut specials and menu classics. It starts with a medley of fall flavors, none mirroring the other. From the specials list, I enjoy my very first veal sweetbread, over a quince almond puree. The puree is stroke a genius - a textural resemblance to hummus, except on the flavor, with its rich, creamy nuttiness, anchored by the meyer lemon veal jus foam. The foam is enough to drag my (let’s say “sometimes”) vegetarian dining partner off their deep-end, and results in her tasting the actual sweetbread, which she loves (by that feat, Robert has already won). Her favorite is the bisque, of pumpkin, carrot and ginger - the natural sweetness slightly coaxed by the “gingersnap amaretto” crème fraiche. From the classic menu, a roasted baby beets salad with Humboldt fog chèvre and a blood orange vinaigrette. All three items are tethered by his choice pairing - a bright, strong chardonnay from the Mâcon Fuissé region of France.
While enjoying his pairings, I also tend to my old-fashioned (less than $9 during happy hour). We have plenty to talk about while Robert calmly walks the rooms, where I’m reminded he’s also the owner, and might have some hands to shake. When he joins us again, we’re eating our next course – a stunning grilled quail special, perfectly cooked in its molasses-rubbed candy skin. He then serves us a favorite from the daily menu, the grist & toll creamy polenta; a roughly milled local cornmeal that contains hidden leaves of texture, with the thrilling inclusion of artichoke hearts, roasted garlic and niçoise olives.
While we take our time appreciating these delicious gems of Chef’s yesterday’s inspirations, he muses on about other culinary concepts percolating in his busy mind. It’s clear that his gears never stop turning. What’s most surprising is his ability to keep up with himself, something only a chef/owner can achieve, having a platform to constantly publish his ideas. It’s also helped him create a menu that’s cost conscious, to the customer and also the establishment. If you ask him, he’d be happy to tell you the process of replicating his pomodoro or scratch lasagna. But by the time he’s finished, you’ll find you’re better off letting him take care of it.
The key ingredients are always a healthy balance of passion and obsession. Chef Humphreys has plenty of both, but also the temper required to support the business. It’s a rare skillset - the patience to describe the procedure of making feuilletine, the crispy bed of our exemplary chocolate praline cake, and then retire to tend to the payroll. But while it functions as a restaurant, Plate 38 is run like a kitchen – his kitchen. His willingness to workshop an entrée he designed in yield to a food allergy, or to sit down with you and talk about what inspired its inception. All the while, his friends are in the other room, yelling at the TV, and you’re politely informed that you’ve stolen the chef’s own glass of red wine. Is this every night at Robert Humphrey’s house? I intend to find out.
Written by: Jacob Yana Miller
Plate 38 is located at 2361 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
In the 10+ years I’ve worked in the foodservice industry, I’ve experienced the pain, and privilege, of serving a range of cuisines at varied price points. I’ve worked at a high-end steak and seafood house, with tired recipes and an average of $25/plate. I’ve served buy-in Italian food, with Alfredo sauce wrapped in plastic pillowcases, reheated and sold at a 500% markup. In my highs and lows working as a server, I’ve been most honored to serve authentic Thai food, sourcing local proteins and vegetables, breaking even at $8-10/plate. With such affordable pricing, I was earning far less, but it provided me with something far more valuable – pride in the food. I didn’t have to steer customers away from well-reading, poorly conceptualized dishes. Everything was fantastic, and there was nothing to hide.
This, too, is the pride of Pawandeep, the 24-year-old daughter of Santokh Singh Khinda, who opened All India Café in Pasadena with wife Parminder in 1994. Both contributed to creating the menu from classic recipes, building their own bases - a painstaking process many other Indian restaurants tend to shortcut. It’s a labor of love and integrity, which makes for a truly different serving experience - offering food with full faith in its consistency and ingenuity. Pawandeep joined us as we enjoyed some of her favorite dishes; pride-points of the restaurant that, despite its unassuming storefront and humble interiors, has been voted “Best Indian Restaurant” in Pasadena Weekly for the past 15 years.
Despite my courageous cooking adventures, Indian is the one cuisine I’ve always shied from even attempting. The library of spices that make up the unrivaled flavor profiles demands a dedicated culinary collector. As an American who’s only briefly set foot out of the country, my perspective of Indian food is limited. And if you were to ask me, years ago, what the mark of a terrific Indian restaurant is, I’d have answered, “Chicken Tikka Masala, of course.” This seems to be a dish with the most puzzling variance in flavor, texture, and creaminess between Indian restaurants.
What I didn’t know, until a couple years ago, is that this dish was first created as a fluke; an improvised modification of a curry sent back to the kitchen a British bus driver in Glasgow, Scotland. Folding in the addition of yogurt and tomato sauce saw the birth of what would later be declared the “National Dish of Great Britain.” But what makes this Indian “classic” so amazing? As with most Indian dishes, it’s the base. All India Café starts with rough-chopped and simmered tomatoes, giving a beautiful body to the dish, and a creamy hue, not exaggerated by artificial food colorings. The result is a rich sauce with velvety texture – a structure reminiscent of a fresh vodka sauce, which of course could never strive to carry such depth of flavor. Simply put, it’s the best I’ve found in the city.
While some would argue Masala is the true test of the Indian restaurant, I would argue it’s the Naan. The best I’d had is in my Upstate NY hometown, well out of range, and I’ve tried over a dozen renditions of the tandoori baked bread in Los Angeles, with none holding a candle. All India has passed the test. I appreciate Pawandeep’s decision to offer us the “Garlic Naan”, which has consistently disappointed in my exhaustive search across the county for one that actually has the courage to add fresh garlic, not fried, or waived for the simple decoy of chopped parsley. They not only deliver on the garlic, but the texture of the Naan - light, flexible yet firm (some want a platform for their curries, where others prefer the fold-into-sandwich form). It’s so tender that it tastes but a couple minutes past “gummy”. For me, this should be the “textbook”.
Pawandeep, who is vegetarian, also treats us to classic appetizers of vegetable samosas, and onion Pakora (the latter of which, battered cleverly in lentil flour, is also gluten-free). Samosas are another personal favorite - crisp pockets of delicious waxy white potatoes and peas. Like a snowflake, I haven’t found an Indian restaurant that executes uniform design of the popular, portable street food. Theirs is ranked among my favorites – sleek cone shells that offer a crunchy, textural backboard to the almost creamy potato filling. Unfortunately, there is not enough of either appetizer in a single order to do justice to the several brilliant chutneys offered (it’s here I experienced my first “plum chutney”, which is mind-blowing).
All India Café, a charmingly accessible atmosphere for dine-ins, also offers free delivery within a 3-mile radius. Indian has always been one of my favorite delivery options, as a few entrees can carry me through several meals over a couple of days. I made sure to walk with a couple of items to see how it travels. Rather well, as it was received by my sweetheart (and editor). I would be in trouble if I didn’t let her sample their Masala, her go-to favorite.
So what does it say when her attention is stolen by the perfectly tender Chicken Tikka, baked in its marinade, served typically naked on a bed of caramelized white onions? I’m perplexed. Ah, she’s just lost in the sauce, running the tender pieces through the slightly spicy, perfectly pureed mint chutney. I’m lucky she doesn’t notice as I pop the pickled carrots and cauliflower, which mean to provide a zippy balance to the Tikka’s savory seasoning, but are delightful all on their own. Should I tell her she’s eating thigh meat, a dark cut she typically avoids? Maybe, after I make this Masala disappear.
All India Cafe is located at 39 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
This morning I woke with a numb tongue. I made a hot cup of coffee and let it cool on my nightstand for 20 minutes before I felt brave enough to drink the lukewarm liquid. This is the only negative tax I count from last night’s dining experience, which saw me abundantly fed, in a whole new way. The numbness is my own fault, the cost of my excitement - the overwhelming urge to try as many things as possible in the 90 minutes I’d allotted for my meal. Not to say I wasn’t warned – they call it “hot pot” for a reason.
I remember fondly my monthly trips to the Chinese Buffet; a small child, and years before I would hold my first chef’s knife. I wasn’t drawn by the adventure of eating Lo Mein next to French fries, or dry-skinned dumplings beside a pizza pulled from the oven an hour ago. It was the simple joy of curating my own meal on several plates, pushing colors together - experimenting with blending wildly different flavor profiles. Where it would be a few years before I started fixing my own meals, here I got to play the artist. It mattered not that other chefs had prepared my inks and paints, or that the food had lost much of its moisture to the ambivalent steam tables. What mattered was I was the architect, and it was thrilling.
At Tokyo Shabu Shabu, located at the Shops on Lake Ave. in Pasadena, I was invited to relive this experience, now with the sensibility of a seasoned chef. This did not keep me from burning my tongue several times over the course of the meal, bustled by the pressure of possibility in the four concentrated pots of flavor before me, evolving with every passing minute by my addition of ingredients, and of course the evaporation of water in the broth. Every bite had the potential to say something else. And I needed to taste every stage in its evolution, even if it literally burned me.
Shabu Shabu translates from Japanese to “swish swish”, which is an integral part of the process - passing thin slices of gorgeously marbled rare beef through the boiling broths (which I found was best enjoyed after no more than 5 seconds – “Swish swish”, indeed). To partake in this type of experience requires a bit of effort from the diner. Each customer is given a plate stacked with a medley of leafy greens, mushrooms, scallions, carrots and noodles. Where do they go? It’s entirely up to you.
The noodles provided range from raw thick “udon” (which require a minimum of three minutes in a rolling boil to reach an al dente tenderness), to the translucent “harusame” (typically made from mung bean, these take less than 10 seconds before they’re ready to eat). It took me a full visit of willing exploration to familiarize myself with appropriate cook times on the different vegetables, in broths of varying heat. I was excited to have found my method near the end of the meal, because if you’re willing to put the little bit of work in, this is not done justice in a single visit.
The décor in Tokyo Shabu Shabu has with a restrained albeit Harajuku style. The seating arrangements are necessarily focused on practicality. Each table sits four people and four burners, built into the slick marble. The bar is also an option for smaller parties, backed by two televisions looping an eclectic set of selected pop music videos. The ambience sets a gentle lighting, sharper over the pots, and the music of the sporadic slicing of paper-thin meats. A song I’m not accustomed to hearing in a restaurant, the slicer became is my Pavlov trigger, having now tasted the powerful, delicate work it’s doing.
It’s the thinly shaved premium meats at Shabu Shabu that will always be the star, meant only to briefly dance in the soups, and the endorsement of its rich natural flavors is evident with the intention of its sourcing. Our spread consisted of certified Angus “beef bacon” (perhaps the fattier cut on the menu, but perfectly rendered in just 8-seconds), and Wagyu-grade Chuckeye from Snake River Farms in Boise (a 4-second cook is sufficient). Their sourcing is across-the-board ethically focused - their chicken is Jidori (locally farmed, free-range), their pork is Kurobuta (purebred Berkshire hogs mandated by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture). They obtain their lamb from Colorado, fed a deliberate corn diet to reduce its signature gamey flavor (allowing it to cooperate with nuanced flavors in their broths).
Tokyo Shabu Shabu offers 15 different broths, or soup bases, sampling a variety of East Asian cuisines. Our spread included a Thai influenced Yellow Curry broth (the coconut milk remains resilient over a constant heat), a spicy Kimchi broth (my personal favorite), a classic Tonkotsu broth (which delivers the trusty sticky lips from the hours-long reduction of pork bones), and a Sukiyaki (sweet soy and sake, my dining partner’s favorite). While this provided countless potential combinations, it was still just a fraction of the broths not represented at my table. Of course, one of the influential factors in the flavor of the soup is its reduction. I would encourage the staff to familiarize their customers with the foolproof uniform burner knobs on the edge of their tables to adjust the heat under each broth, so found balance in our experimentation is not too fleeting.
Darren & Patricia Ooi are the proprietors of all three of Tokyo Shabu Shabu locations in Los Angeles. Darren was available to give us the tour, but proudly credits Patricia as the mastermind behind the menu. While he takes due credit for their drink menu, a variety of fine sake and craft beers imported from Japan (and not Canada, which he discerns is the actual brewing site for many other popular “Japanese” beers), his passion for the cuisine and the interactive element is fervent, and that passion is contagious.
I regarded his counsel in elevating our Sukiyaki broth experience with another personal first, boldly incorporating a whipped raw egg into my dipping process. After a 6-second “swish swish” of beef bacon through the sweet and savory juice, I then passed it through the egg, providing a creamy coat for the tender beef. This is not the only time I incorporated an egg, as later I found myself poaching one in the Kimchi broth at the recommendation of our waitress (which I then broke over the bowl of rice I’d almost entirely neglected).
You know the eating is good when my beer glass has time to sweat, while this shouldn’t discount its quality. We enjoyed a Koshihikari Rice Lager (made from a high-priced, chief-quality sushi rice), crisp and effervescent, and a delightful Kawaba Snow Weizen (a light-bodied, slightly fruity wheat beer). Neither weighed us down, which would have done a disservice to the bounty of food demanding our attention.
I wouldn’t be surprised if many were drawn in not by the Shabu Shabu, but the delightful appetizers. We enjoyed luscious, perfectly rendered chicken wings, and fried squid kebabs (which pair best with a terrific sesame dressing your friend might convince you is actually a light peanut sauce). Most impressive were the picture perfect gyoza, holding enough flavor and juice in their crispy shells to draw a comparison to soup dumplings. In the end, it’s all about the hot pots, the perfect slices of meat, and the opportunity to once again play the artist with other’s superior paints and potions. Perhaps the marble will become sticky by meals-end, but let that be your pride and proof, that you’re the champion of your own full belly. And don’t miss the point – you don’t have to clean up afterwards.
Tokyo Shabu Shabu is located at 345 S Lake Ave, Ste 101, Pasadena, CA
When I was invited to lunch at Pasadena’s “Lost At Sea”, I did what I always do – I pulled up their menu. At first, I was slightly disappointed, and confused by the disparity in their lunch and dinner options. The dinner menu had a nice variety of dishes one would expect to find at a seafood-centric restaurant – Oysters at the respectable price-point, prawn ceviche, and a butter poached lobster. All of these headers were familiar, but the accouterments for each dish seemed entirely unique, balanced with clever umami or fresh fruit, suggesting an inspired lightness I like to see with any seafood.
So I was a bit shocked to find that the lunch menu, listing only seven items excluding sides, was largely comprised of sandwiches. Now I like a sandwich as much as the next guy, but I typically won’t go seeking a “seafood sandwich” for lunch, especially in a town like Pasadena, boasting a variety of tried-and-true lunch options. Perhaps this is why we found the restaurant fairly empty for a 12:30 seating. So there’s no confusion, I should say I find this tragic, as we were in store for something truly wonderful.
The décor is bright and tasteful, rustic wood, some weathered, and the well-restrained addition of modern flare. I was relieved to find it wasn’t shouting a nautical theme, as so many seafood restaurants can’t seem to help themselves. We were promptly greeted by co-owners Tim Carey and Santos Uy (executive chef and wine director, respectfully). Both were polite upon hearing that my dining partner, a local foodie and publisher of @Pasadena_Eats, was not a fan of seafood (hence my invitation).
I asked about their first listed sandwich, a Smoked Salmon, which reads as what most restaurants would serve open-faced as a “toast”, and was surprised to hear it was indeed a sandwich. This had me worried. After all, lunch should be light, providing diners the necessary energy to ride out their day. I longed for the lighter concepts showcased on the dinner menu, but their confidence was palpable, and so we happily conceded to a lunch of their design.
We were brought three dishes – a salad, a bowl, and finally, a sandwich. The pacing was thoughtful, although Staysi was intent of filling the table for a photo before she loosened my leash. The kitchen caught on without our instruction, and within 15 minutes, we had received all three dishes, paired with a glass of crisp, semi-dry Albariño.
The one constant in every dish was balance. And all three of them satisfied my requirement for an excellent lunch – that when plates were empty, I would be able to walk again. The first dish they’d presented is scheduled for retirement at the end of next week, with respect to its seasonal availability. The Stone Fruit Salad, with delicately bitter arugula, spectacularly tangy peaches and the nuttiness of pumpkin seeds made for a delightful introduction to Carey’s sense of balance. It wasn’t showy, but there wasn’t a dull bite on the plate, and the zip from the peaches and greens were bright and lively.
The second dish is my idea of a perfect light-lunch – the Confit Salmon Bowl, with seeds, wild red rice and pickled vegetables (a unique blend of adorable razor-thin baby zucchini, red onion and enoki mushroom). Priced at the very reasonable $12, this was a bowl of pure energy food. The signature fishiness of the salmon was gracefully cut by the pickled veggies, and I was no longer afraid of the sandwich that would soon be joining us.
The sandwiched served is what I would generally consider the heavyweight in it’s class – an Albacore Tuna Melt, with crispy fontina on beautifully toasted bread from the local SEED Bakery. Since I moved to Los Angeles four years ago, I’ve been blissfully overwhelmed by the food culture, and while my meals are often informed by prior research, it’s with great pride I can say all my negative restaurant experiences could be counted on fingers and toes. In the last few years, I’ve been so lucky to find, and continue the search for dishes that are so damn delicious they become a monkey on my back. This tuna melt, which I can easily attest is the best tuna melt I’ve ever had, now holds a place on this list of hauntingly terrific dishes.
What makes for “the best tuna melt”? It’s hard to say. The fresh herbs, chunks of sour pickle, onion and celery - these are all things I make sure to include when I make my own at home (which I can confidently say is nothing to mess with). Perhaps it’s the perfectly toasted bread, the lack of butter pushing through its pores and spilling over the crust, which is all-too common. Perhaps it’s the sharp crisp of fontina, almost a frico-quality, or the true test of a great tuna salad (if I can taste the mayo, I count that to be a problem). It held it’s form and crunch, even after bringing home half for my sick girlfriend, and it found a friend with my dining partner, who now has to reevaluate her stance on seafood... as I am forced me to reevaluate my stance on sandwiches. And calls to question, if they can school me at lunch, what does this say about dinner?
Written by: Jacob Yana Miller
Lost At Sea is located at 57 E. Holly St., Pasadena CA 91103