Bacchus’ Kitchen – Pasadena, CA
Last Visited: August 2019
Although we walk the corgis past this restaurant nearly every weekend and always stop to check the menu, in late 2018 it had been several months … maybe even a year … since we had dined at Bacchus’ Kitchen. In the past year we’ve visited four times, and our little neighborhood gem has delivered on each and every occasion.
Bacchus’ Kitchen is a small restaurant located on the edge of Bungalow Heaven, a historical neighborhood in Pasadena (technically the restaurant is in East Washington Village). It opened in 2015 and has always delivered consistently good meals.
This little corner of Bungalow Heaven has become a happening area with the addition of the popular coffee house Lavender & Honey, Lark Cake Shop, a nail salon, gym and yoga. With the recent addition of Mille’s Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch until 4 p.m., the walkability factor of the neighborhood has vastly improved.
Bacchus’ Kitchen is the brainchild of Claude Beltran (formerly of Noir and a few other area restaurants, including a place we loved called The Eatery).
Our server on our first visit four years ago, Brandon, is still there. He’s the manager now and always recognizes us (and other customers), and says hello. The menu changes frequently, so we always check what’s new when we walk by with the corgis.
They don’t call it “Bacchus’” Kitchen for nothing.
On one of our visits late last year it offered a flight of rosé wines, with the rosé from Spain being the consensus winner.
The restaurant also offers a unique (and fair) corkage policy. If you order a wine from its list, they’ll waive the corkage ($25) on your first bottle. Even better, if you have a wine of 10 years or older, there is no corkage fee (two bottle maximum).
On Valentine’s Day this year we joined friends, Rolando and Talia, for a six course meal ($120/couple). We also brought two bottles of wine that were more than ten years old, so the corkage fee was waived. We also decided to waive photos on this night since the restaurant was dimly lit, perfect for a romantic evening.
We started with a “primero” of heart shaped beet salad. Followed by the “segundo” of either blood orange salad or grilled artichokes. Tracy and I had the salad and Talia and Rolando tried the artichokes. Great start to the meal.
Next up, the “terceo” of Shrimp and Chorizo or Spanish Tortilla. We all chose the Spanish Tortilla which was delectable. There were four options for the “cuarto” or main course: Seafood Saffron Paella, Vegetarian Saffron Paella, Prime New York Strip Steak or Pan Seared Duck Breast. Talia went for the Paella, Tracy tried the duck breast and Rolando and I had the New York Strip. All great options.
Dinner was followed by the “quinto” of aged mahon and dried figs. For dessert we had the churros with chocolate sauce. It made for a wonderful Valentine’s night.
Tracy and I returned two days later because the Beef Bourguignon was calling my name.
Our meal started with a very good amuse bouche which was a tiny pastry filled with fig and raspberry and topped with micro greens.
Tracy had her new favorite, blood orange and shaved fennel salad, followed by Pan Seared Scallops; roasted fennel bulb, kabocha squash, duchess white balsamic parsley puree ($28).
Later in the year, on a scorching evening, which was too hot to cook, we returned to try the summer menu. Yet another delicious amuse bouche, this time a bacon wrapped date. Yum! We love the amuse bouche since it reminds me of our meals in Europe where the amuse bouche is a frequent starter.
Digression: One of our amuse bouche dishes a few years ago were thin cucumber slices wrapped around goat cheese flavored with dill to taste like a pickle. Pickles are one of the only foods I actually refuse to eat, but in the spirit of the review I ate one and, much to my dismay … liked it! So much so, in fact, the kitchen sent us another one to enjoy (for Free).
On our summer 2019 visit we again brought an older bottle of wine, so the corkage fee was waived. We do not recall how we acquired this bottle of wine, but Claude said it was a winery (Caymus) he was familiar with and that he had hosted a wine tasting event for the winery in the past. The 2000 Cab was delicious.
On this visit, I again started with a Burrata salad this time with local yellow peaches and Thai basil citrus vinaigrette ($14). Tracy ordered the roasted red beet tartar on a bed of avocado with mango puree and a white balsamic Dijon vinaigrette ($12).
For dinner Tracy (who is starting to give our seafood-loving friend Mary a run for the money in the fish department), tried the Seared Scallops with creamy corn pudding, sautéed yellow squash, grilled asparagus, pickled shallots and chile sauce ($28), which she said were delicious.
I ordered the Niman Ranch bone-in Cuban pork chop with a sofrito of green lentils, mojo fried plantains and charred red onions ($28). It was perfectly cooked.For dessert we shared an orange Panna Cotta with orange curd, fresh grapefruit and oat crumble ($11). It could have been the best I’ve ever eaten, and I know my panna cottas! Wow!
Bacchus’ Kitchen has a lot more going on, too. Every so often they will host dinners called BacchusLIVE, featuring musical artists, including Grammy winners. They also host wine tasting dinners.
This year Bacchus’ Kitchen instituted a special Tuesday menu. As Claude did with his restaurant The Eatery (RIP), each month features a different cuisine. In October, for instance, every Tuesday is “Eine Kleine Oktoberfest,” which (as the website states, “we explore culinary delights from Deutschland.” These Tuesday dinners are $35 prix fixe. Prost!!!
Claude also provides a catering service for events … or even a dinner at your home.
For Tracy and myself, however, Bacchus’ Kitchen has become our home away from home, a quality restaurant where, for us, no car is required for transportation. Now that really is good eating in the neighborhood.
Mai Tai Tom Rating: 4.5 Mai Tais (Out of 5)
1384 East Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (check for website for special Sunday events)
Parking: Free (lot or street)