Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Dining Room - *Philly/New York Intermission*

The Dining Room 2

For the 3 or so of you that are anxiously awaiting the recap of my recent Philly/New York gastronomic tour, I apologize for this short intermission. As a spontaneous splurge, I decided to take my friend for her belated birthday dinner to Michael Voltaggio's restaurant, The Dining Room, in Pasadena last night.

We were in the San Gabriel/Pasadena area to see a play that my friend was in. Earlier in the morning I was doing a search of good restaurants in the area and this had come up. With the recent trip to Philly and all of the wonderful restaurants I dined in, I've developed a new appreciation for good food. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were so close to the restaurant and of my friend's birthday. Really though, I just wanted to be able to say that I ate at his restaurant and post pictures.

Flowers 2
The reservations were for 6:15. We parked on the street and walked over to the hotel because... I was about to shelve out $200 for this place and I refused to pay for valet. Valet was actually free but I didn't want to pay tip. You can guess how often I dine in these kinds of fancy shmancy places. The Langham Hotel was stunning. As we walked through the hotel to get to the restaurant we came upon a small wedding. After our dinner we saw the bride in the most beautiful gown. We also ran into an old pastor who had officiated the wedding. Small world.

Anyway, we arrived and they seated us by the small garden/patio outside. It was pretty empty. Six wasn't that early.. but I figured it'd get busy later.

As we waited for the waiter we looked around taking note of what makes a place fine dining. My friend, April, grabbed the silverware and said, "I wonder if this is real silver." She proceeded to inspect.

Inspector April

We ordered the Four Course meal for each of us making sure we didn't double up on anything. Just the meal in itself was $79 per person with an optional wine pairing for $45. Unfortunately, we had to do without the alcohol. Everything was out of this world with the exception of a couple of items for my friend.

Because it was our first time dining in the restaurant they gave us some free bite-sized items (I'm sorry but I don't remember the names of all of these items).

Pate a Choux and Lollipop

Our first free item was this small pate a choux and lollipop. The pate a choux had something buttery and savory in the center. Delicious! The lollipop was some sort of jelly with flakey salt on top of it.


I was really impressed by the butter. It also came on this black slate in these round pucks. The center was a goat cheese butter and I don't remember the other two. One was a little salty and the other one almost had no flavor to it... but not necessarily in a bad way. It was so silky soft! The bread was unbelievable as well.

Country Sourdough and Bacon Roll

The Country Sourdough was crispy on the outside but not so much where you can't even chew it. The Bacon roll was unexpected. There was a chunk of bacon in my roll. A lovely surprise.

Arctic Char
Arctic Char
Green Garlic Tapioca, Black Olive, Puffed Mushroom Cracker

Pork Belly
Kurobuta Pork Belly
Bok Choy "Kim Chi", Sweet Potato Preserves, Peanut Butter Powder

Being Korean and all I didn't approve too much on the Bok Choy Kim Chi but, man alive, that Pork Belly was delicious. Peanut butter was an interesting add.

We asked for more bread in fear that we might not be full by the end of the meal and the waiter told us that there was a second course of bread coming. He brought this out:

Brioche 3
Truffle Brioche

I wonder why the bottom was hollow like that..
It was so fluffy and delicious. Wish I could have taken a box full home.

For the next course:

Foie Gras FritoFoie Gras Frito
Black Sesame, Pickled Blueberries, Basil

Beef Cheeks
Beef Cheeks
Porcini Mushroom Cannele, Garlic Froth

April Eating
Foie Gras was soooo delicious. It looked like tofu but it definitely didn't taste like tofu. The center was unbelievably soft and just melted in my mouth. April was less than thrilled about this one. She did love her cheeks though. The foam also impressed her very much.
For the last savory course:

Short Ribs
Wagyu Short Rib
Potato Confit, Nantes Carrot, Bone Marrow, Coconut Soubise

Jameson Farm Lamb
Fresh Chickpeas, Flavors of Hummus, Yogurt

This was my first time having Lamb. It was... different. I could tell the distinctive flavor of the meat in comparison to the normal steaks I'm used to. April hated it. I really liked the little spheres of yogurt. It went well with the meat. The Short Ribs were delicious.
The second free item was frozen Blackberries or as April liked to call them, Dippin' Dots.


She and I were cracking up the entire time about how they probably have a huge tub of these Dippin Dots they bought and how they must trick all of their customers into paying crazy amounts of money for food that we could get for so much cheaper. We were only kidding but it was hilarious to think about it.

By this time the sun had set and the nice lighting for my beautiful food went along with it. And of course the remaining dishes were the ones I really wanted to make sure to document: Dessert.

Chocolate Caramel Ganache
Chocolate Sorbet, Salty Hazelnut Praline, Cocoa Tuile

Pistachio Tres Leches
Pistachio Tres Leches
Nitro Chocolate Mousse, Mandarin Orange

Ganache wasn't as intense as I was expecting it to be. It was super pliable too.. I don't know what they do to it to make it like that. But this reminded me of a ganache that his brother, Brian, did on Top Chef on one of the episodes. I wonder if Michael jacked the idea from his brother. It wasn't over powering and the sorbet and tuile were also very delicious. We saw later that the flakes on top of the ganache were glittering gold. A little bling bling for the desserts. The Tres Leches was.. ok. My tongue started to get raw and sensitive because of all the acid that the cake was soaked in. Not my favorite part of the meal, unfortunately, but the last part of the meal was.


This was the last free item. Two each of a jelly in edible wrapper, chocolate macarons with a flowery ganache, and dark chocolate lollipops. My favorite was the chocolate. The waiter said that there was a "surprise" in the chocolate. It turned out to be pop rocks. I think I might jack the idea. Seems simple enough.

All in all it was a wonderful experience. I don't think I'd be able to afford that kind of a dinner again any time soon but I'm glad I went. If you don't mind spending a lot of money on great food I would recommend this place. But it's something I can live without. My friend's a BBQ kind of girl and I'm just lazy. If we want great food we'll settle for $10 Korean BBQ any day of the week. With that said, it also doesn't hurt to get dressed up and treat ourselves to some fantastically prepared dishes.


  1. Your pictures are so incredible! Sooooooooooooo much better than mine! I need to go when there is some natural light!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I really loved our visit there. The food is truly exquisite, inside and out.

  2. Oh wow! What a compliment! It really helped being next to the window. We did eat earlier too. I had so much trouble with the desserts! Thanks again! And when is the next phototasting? I heard it got postponed..

  3. you blog totally made me salivate over each picture that i actually drooled on my hand. >.< I'm horribly embarrassed to admit that, but I can only think it's totally natural! =D...
    This is definitely gonna be on my of places to visit in the near future!

  4. lol, i've said it a million times but u are an awesome photographer