Dinner at Magnolia House Pasadena – February 16, 2015

This review is for the hipsters who also call themselves foodies. Nestled amongst all of the other renowned establishments lies one that will soon lead the pack. With its cool vibe and great food its bound to become a Pasadena staple for those food lovers. Part ski lodge, part nautical, with an urban New York vibe, and all of that under one roof!

For the romantic there is a roaring fire, cozy couches, all-adding up to the ultimate love shack. You just got to enjoy the newness of this place, with its lively cuisine.

Owner’s brothers Chris and John Bicos have been in the food business for a long time. Their father was the long time owner of the original Tops in Pasadena in the early 1950’s, and Gus’s BBQ, both fantastic staples in the Pasadena culinary landscape.

Executive Chef Kyu Yi’s got a serious handle on big Korean flavors and he implements them in most of the glorious dishes, he also created the famous BBQ recipes at their sister restaurant, Gus’s BBQ.

Here’s what I tried:

House Cocktails:

Bee Sting with Potato Vodka, Clover Honey, Lemon Juice, and Absinthe. This cocktail is oh so smooth, you will not even know that your drinking alcohol, what a treat. Beverage Manager Colin Shearn’s magnificent collection of cocktails makes it difficult for anyone to choose just one.

Mendocino Sour with 6-year old Bourbon, Fino Sherry, Lemon Juice, Rooibos Tea & Lavender. A great drink for a Manhattan drinker, with all the bells and whistles.
White Wine:

Chardonnay, Copain, Anderson Valley 2012, very fruity and sparkly, works well with the radicchio Caesar salad.

Chardonnay, Maison L’Envoye, Bourgogne Blanc, Burgundy, 2012, nice grassy flavors, I would drink this one with the Ahi Sashimi.

Chardonnay, La Follette, North Coast 2013, this wine is so buttery, just lovely, and went great with the Marinated Shrimp.

Red Wine:

Pinot Noir, Copain, Anderson Valley, 2013, I liked this wine with the burger, nice rounded jammy flavors.

Syrah, Zacatecas Mesa, Santa Ynez, 2013. I would try this wine with the Korean Short Rib, it added to the spicy, tangy nuances.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Hall, Napa Valley, 2012, this wondrous wine worked well with the Brussels sprouts, and the bacon.

Red Blend, Kismet, “Papa’s All Blacks-Old Vine”, North Coast, 2012. This lends itself to all of the ingredients in the burger, especially the house made cheese.

Snacks & Shareable Bites:

Truffle Pistachios with black truffle Infused Sea salt. I am a big fan of pistachios, but with the added effect of truffle salt will make you beg for more.

Thai Marinated Olives with Thai chili, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, there is a nice hint of lemongrass flavor.

For One, Two or Three:

Chilled Marinated Shrimp, with Old Bay seasoning, and lemon chive aioli. They do a nice grilled crostini with this and the lemon chive aioli really hits the spot.

Radicchio Caesar with a Parmesan crisp. This is a great take on a Caesar, with radicchio, and the Parmesan crisp makes all the difference in the world.

Brussels Sprouts with cilantro pistachio pesto, smoked bacon, crispy egg, and Pecorino cheese. There are so many restaurants doing this dish as part of their small plates menu, this one is about the best there is. All of the different ingredients make for a very satisfying plate.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings, sweet and spicy chili sauce, kimchi cucumbers. I loved this one, with all of its Korean flavors, a very nice rendition.

Ahi Sashimi with ponzu, smoked salt, wasabi vinaigrette, crushed wasabi peas, and fried kale. The tuna is very fresh and light, and the accompaniments worked very nicely as well.

House Burger with house made American cheese, dill pickle remoulade, and thick cut smoked bacon, bourbon onions. What a burger, jam packed with goodness, really one of the best ever.

Korean Short Rib with shiitake and baby kale risotto, pickled daikon, and crushed sesame. I loved the risotto underneath the short rib, and the short rib itself is oh so tender.


Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding with salted caramel, vanilla bean semifreddo, and toasted almonds. This is a very rich dessert, but a real crowd pleaser.

My brilliant server Jennifer Lollie, who is also a freelance photographer and art student, added a very pleasant approach to an already fun experience.

The interior has so many cute little vignettes in each room, and different styles of design in all of the nooks and crannies. The music is ambient, with Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive done in a dance re-mix, very lively and upbeat.

Magnolia House is not in Old Town Pasadena, instead it’s in a smaller friendly neighborhood, just the perfect place to go have a nice meal and good conversation. This place is a tribute to all of the small plate style establishments, because The Magnolia House delivers, it’s the real deal!

Magnolia House
492 S. Lake Ave.
Pasadena, CA. 91101


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