Tucked away in South Pasadena is a gem of a restaurant, so hidden and quaint. The only way to find it is to drive by, or word of mouth, but anyway you can happen on this ideal place, please stop and try it out.
The interior is woodsy and dark, but there are many patios if you want an outside feel in the day or night. In the evening the patios have heat lamps, each one has such a homey cozy feel, you will be happy you choose this casual outdoor seating. One of the patios has a rock fireplace. There is also elegant wisteria in bloom in the patios during certain times of year. They play great classic rock, and old school, which really sets the tone.
Their small staff feels like family, working in a house type environment helps. Grace, our lovely server was so sweet and upbeat. I was trying to figure out who she reminded me of and asked her what celebrities others have said she looked like. Days after my tasting I figured it out, her intonations were a dead ringer for Lisa Ling; she did a great job of pronouncing the entire menu in a very intelligent manner. Grace grew up on the East coast; her sister went to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School and got her interested in food.
Assistant manager Robert Arevalo was so nice. Grace said to me a few times that he was the first person she met when she got hired, and she loved him. He has worked at The Raymond off and on for 17 years. Owners Rob and Leslie Libby bought the restaurant 10 years ago from Michael Burlingham. Having fantastic Chef Tim Guiltiner really sealed the deal. Chef Guiltners mentor was his Grandfather Donald, who taught him how to make the best chili with a six-pack of bear. The icing on the very sweet cake was watching bartender Pete hand chip ice cubs from a huge block of ice with his very own special knife.
Here’s what I tried:
Pimms #6: Russian Standard Vodka Pimms, Mint, Cucumber, Citrus, Carbonates Lemonade. This is an effervescent blend of drinkable mixology. Very thirst quenching and nicely combined, I would say try this one as a starter.
Medicina: Tequila, Ginger-Honey Syrup, Lime, and Mezcal Mist. On the same line as a margarita, but with a little more action, the Mezcal will blow your hair back.
Wines By The Glass:
Sauvignon Blanc: Atalon, Napa, CA. This wine went great with the scallops and the shrimp dishes, it is fruity, but fresh and crisp, the perfect combination.
Chardonnay, Ramey, Sonoma Coast, CA. I loved this wine with Alaskan king crab salad; it had just the right amount of oak and butter to stand up to the sweet crab.
Pinot Noir: À Côté, Central Coast, CA. Perfect with the mussels and the chorizo. I also liked this with the Louisiana bourbon butter cake; it had all the proper characteristics to not overpower the bourbon.
Cabernet: Crossbarn, Paul Hobbs, Napa, CA. This is a bold, wine with tobacco leather flavors; it was a winner with the pork belly or the rib eye.
Blend: Divergence, Paso Robles, CA. This wine had lots of full-bodied berry flavors, and nicely balanced. I would have to say hands down try this with the rib eye, you will very happy.
Hand Cut Smoked Onion Rings, malt vinegar aioli. They marinate the onions before they cook them so your getting double the flavor, part of the marinade is liquid smoke. I would consider myself an onion ring aficionado, these were the bomb.
Alaskan King Crab Salads, with dill cucumber and tomato. This salad is very petite but it packs a delicious punch. The crab is so fresh, with large leg pieces that just make this dish a great palate enhancer.
Salmon Creek Pork Belly Confit, house kimchi and grilled peaches. I am not the biggest fan of pork belly and there are so many restaurants that are doing this dish. This one is served with the just the right amount of sweet accompaniments which off set the smoky pork flavor.
Gambas y Papas Bravas, wild shrimp, fried potato, spicy tomato sauce, garlic aioli. The color of this dish is so vibrant; it’s tapas but is still very filling. The combined ingredients are just spectacular. Grace said this was popular item, and I can understand why.
Steamed Blue Mussels, angry lady sauce, Chinese sausage, Thai chili. They serve this with a great tasty crusty piece of large sourdough. You can dip to your hearts content. The mussels are small, but packed a lot of flavor, and very fresh.
Hand Harvested Scallops, lobster corn bisque, succotash. I am the ultimate scallop connoisseur, as we know. I pretty much always order scallops at these tastings, and love to see each time what an establishment comes up with. These scallops did not disappoint. Theses were large hearty plump darlings, with the best condiments possible.
Dry Aged Prime Bone-in Rib Eye – for two, elephant garlic, family style vegetables, What can I say, this mammoth piece of meat in all its glory, with the elephant garlic, it’s just utter bliss. You pop the garlic out of its skin, which happens very easy after its baked, and then spread it on each and every prime rib bite, it really will make your taste buds sing. The asparagus is also done to perfection, every inch of the plate are gorgeous and amazing, wow!
Hand Crafted Desserts:
Louisiana Bourbon Butter Cake: Dark Chocolate Ganache Sorbet, Candied Pecans, and Bourbon Caramel. Bread Pudding, like no other bread pudding I have ever tasted. The candied pecans made such a huge statement, covered in powdered sugar. The best part of this dessert is refrigerated and letting all the syrups caramelize, it pretty much turned into candy the next day.
Classic Crème Brulee: Vanilla, Burnt Sugar and Berries. Crème Brulee, very light and airy, but with all of it’s rich vanilla wonderment, a fantastic end to a very delightful evening.
This restaurant is steeped in rich history, located in South Pasadena was the first major resort hotel of the San Gabriel Valley served as a winter residence for wealthy easterners. Mr. Walter Raymond of Raymond & Whitcomb Travel Agency of Boston built it, Mass. The hotel was built atop Bacon Hill which lies between Pasadena and South Pasadena and was renamed Raymond Hill with the opening of the hotel in 1886. The first and original hotel the original hotel, burned to the ground in 1895. A second building was erected in 1901 and equally replaced the older in grandeur. The hotel was foreclosed following the Great Depression and was razed for commercial development. The Raymond Restaurant is housed in what was a guesthouse bungalow, in all of its original craftsman architecture.
It’s a destination spot for anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, and special occasions. There is a couple that comes every Saturday night, for their date night.
Go and experience the splendor of The Raymond 1886 Bar, it’s a great find in the Los Angeles area.
The Raymond 1886 Bar
1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena. CA 91105