Here, the places, plates and inside info you need to know about now.
Dish Bistro & Bar
Former car dealership owner David P. Johnson thought he was going to open a sports bar until he met chef Job Carder at Sonoma’s Manzanita Restaurant and the two decided to launch a bistro together. The result is Dish Bistro & Bar, an upscale neighborhood restaurant where Pasadenans can come for good food served in a congenial setting, complete with huge street-front windows, exposed brick walls, dramatic lighting fixtures that look like hurricane lamps and Rat Pack portraits on the walls.
Carder has created a menu showcasing fresh Sonoma produce styled with a Mediterranean twist. Standout appetizers include fried olives with roasted shallots, veal pancetta and ricotta. One small plate (big enough for the whole table to share) worth trying is the charred octopus carpaccio with fleur de sel, scallions, grapefruit, arugula and lemongrass vinaigrette. The house-made charcuterie plate features luscious foie gras torchon, lamb terrine and thick-cut duck prosciutto.
The larger dishes incorporate equally complex flavor pairings. Bodega Bay petrale sole fillet stands out with sautéed salsify and grilled baby leeks in brownbutter balsamic sauce. Crispy Sonoma Liberty duck confit is garnished with grilled leeks, roasted fennel and braised potatoes in a brandied socca sauce.
Not to be outdone, pastry chef Kirstin Ferguson contributes a grapefruit tart with a pistachio crust, ginger gastrique and candied pistachios—the perfect interplay between sweet and sour.
Like the food, the wine comes mostly from Sonoma, with a few international selections thrown in. Thank goodness, because the last thing Pasadena needs is another sports bar. 53 E. Union St., Pasadena, 626-795-5546; dishbistroandbar.com—ERIC ROSEN
PHOTOGRAPH BY TODD PORTER AND DIANE CU (HATFIELD'S); VANESSA STUMP (DISH)
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.