Monday, November 16, 2009

Noir: A Noteworthy Tapas and Wine Bar in Pasadena

The small street next to the Ice House Comedy Club seems an unlikely place for a small plates and wine bar with a classic bistro look, but checking into the small dining room on Mentor Ave I was surprised even more by the outdoor dining area tucked in the alleyway between the restaurant and the comedy club.
With lush greenery and a live jazz band, Noir is promising to be one of the outdoor destination spots in Pasadena. An extensive wine list and a kitchen manned by Chef Claud Beltran, former executive chef of Madeleine's in Pasadena, certainly doesn't hurt either.

Latin American influence has obviously found its way into Chef Beltran's menu with snacks like the Fried Cotija Cheese with chimichurri sauce ($8), which were a little too salty but very flavorful and addicting nonetheless. Dishes incorporating chayote sauce and specials with huitlacoche were also on the menu.
The risotto with calamari that was on the special that night didn't fare so well. The combination fell on the bland side and the risotto made the fried calamari soggy faster. Grilled calamari or a more flavorful accompaniment would have been better.

The rest of the meal was solid, from the lighter fares including the Fresh Burrata & Shaved Bosc Pears with walnut vinegarette & parsley coulis ($12) and the Heirloom Beet Salad with chives, roasted garlic vinaigrette & parmesan mousse ($7).
The fresh burrata and pear slices make for a nice and light appetizer. The heirloom beets had a subtler flavor that I am used to but were refreshing with a lovely texture.

Asian influences are similarly found in their well-prepared seafood and meat dishes.
Grilled Australian Lamb Chops with Harissa sauce & wild mushrooms ($15) were quite tender and bone-lickingly flavorful.
Seared Scallops with red curried squash purée, caramelized cauliflower & pomegranate seeds ($16) were generously sized fresh and juicy scallops, complemented very well with the spices.
Service was a little slow for us who were in a hurry to catch a play, so desserts were boxed up to go. Desserts that night were unremarkable but given the several good dishes we've had that night I, for one, would certainly come back for another try.

Pasadena is still lacking in its food scene and Noir's creative, globally infused small plates should spark things up a little. Not to mention the outdoor dining area is quite cozy for the romantics trying to avoid Old Town.

Noir Food & Wine
40 North Mentor Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 795-7199
www.noirfoodandwine.com
Noir Food & Wine on Urbanspoon
Noir Food & Wine in Los Angeles

3 comments:

PulledPorker

Thanks for the review. I have been thinking about checking this place out for a few weeks. You hit the nail on the head with the appeal of having a place outside of Old Town; I think that will be a big strength for them.

Bianca

Thanks for the review. I was looking for a place to take my friends in the Pasadena/Glendale area for their birthdays and this is a contender!

weezermonkey

This looks like quite the find! I agree that Pasadena is lacking.

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