Posts Tagged ‘duck’

Bruce Kalman elevates dining with Union Pasadena

Spaghetti alla chitarra at Union Pasadena. Photo courtesy of Union.

Spaghetti alla chitarra at Union Pasadena. Photo courtesy of Union.

Chef Bruce Kalman’s Union Pasadena in Old Town is good — not just good for Pasadena, but good for anywhere. That’s good news for Pasadena, but not so good for those of us who live nowhere near there.

No matter. You’ll want to try Union Pasadena’s food in any case. The menu by Kalman (The Misfit, Urbano Pizza Bar, The Churchill) is described as a “seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine,” but all you need to know is you want all the pasta. Yes, the other dishes are tasty, too — pork meatballs with San Marzano tomatoes, lardo and caper berries, and wild mushrooms over Grist & Toll polenta topped with Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar — but Kalman’s house-made pasta is where it’s at.

The spaghetti alla chitarra (pictured above), with San Marzano tomato, garlic and fresno chili pepper, is a classic kicked up a notch with a Californian ingredient. It’s simple and satisfying.

But when Kalman starts getting creative, that’s when he really shines. The squid ink garganelli served with lobster, fennel, meyer lemon and truffle butter is holy-moly good. The toothsome pasta sucks up all the flavors, including the richness of the lobster.

Squid ink garganelli

Squid ink garganelli. Photo courtesy of Union.

In keeping with the seasonal theme, some dishes in the pasta section change periodically. One of these seasonal dishes is a duck agnolotti with pickled fiddlehead ferns, another rich dish featuring expertly crafted pasta and two of my favorite ingredients.

Duck agnolotti

Duck agnolotti. Photo courtesy of Union.

When it comes to mains, don’t overlook the pork chops. It’s not a sexy cut of meat, but boy are Kalman’s juicy (that sounded really dirty, didn’t it?). The version I had with mushrooms, root vegetables, Marsala sauce and sage was the best I’ve had in recent memory.

I really wish Union Pasadena were closer to where I live, but that would just be selfish. I guess now I have a reason to make the “trek” to Pasadena.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Bruce Kalman Ups the Ante at Union Pasadena by estarLA

Pasadena’s Union is not your same ol’ Old Town by Los Angeles Times


12 2014

The Inland Empire just got interesting with Ra Pour

Lobster "Mac and Cheese" at Ra Pour

Lobster "Mac and Cheese" at Ra Pour

When I think of restaurants in the Inland Empire, chains come to mind. But Ra Pour, a high-end restaurant and bar in Rancho Cucamonga’s Victoria Gardens retail complex, has changed the way I think about dining in the I.E. (there are still a lot of chain restaurants, though).

Ra Pour, the jewel in restaurateur Karim Webb’s crown, is helmed by Executive Chef Greg Stillman, a French Laundry and Patina Restaurant Group alumnus, so right off you know you’re getting a quality meal. However, the combination of a high-end eatery with a club-like after-hours feel, including live music that makes conversation tough, is a bit strange. But given the area’s other options, Ra Pour is probably one of your best bets.

Keep Reading


05 2012

Fun, delicious, with dash of social commentary: brunch at Playa Rivera

Huevos Polenta

Huevos Polenta at Playa Rivera

When I first heard that Chef John Rivera Sedlar was opening Playa Rivera restaurant in the old Grace space on Beverly Boulevard, I jumped for joy. I love Sedlar’s food (and Julian Cox’s cocktails) at Rivera downtown, so having one of his eateries closer in proximity to where I live is really a treat.

Elegant, hearty and delicious, Playa Rivera’s brunch is a great choice for a casual-but-elevated meal. I had the pleasure of having brunch here with Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, Lindsay of LAist and Esther of estarLA, and we had a well-rounded meal complete with cocktails and a chat with Sedlar himself, who happened to walk in just as we were leaving.

Keep Reading


09 2011

Old school glamour, food and drink: The Tar Pit

Gin Gin Mule

Gin Gin Mule

The Tar Pit, the much-anticipated new bar and restaurant from chef Mark Peel and general manager Jay Perrin, both of Campanile fame, and noted mixologist Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York, made its debut late last week, and what a debut it was. From the 1940s art moderne decor (the simpler version of art deco) to the era-appropriate food and drink, The Tar Pit is a nice respite from the dark, often cramped, speakeasy style that has been popular among bars lately.

Keep Reading

Related Posts with Thumbnails


12 2009