3 Meals a Day at Plate 38

Jan 16, 2011

Buttermilk-fried game hen

We’ve felt sorry for hungry East Pasadenans for so long—it just doesn’t seem fair that they have to travel west of Hill to find good food that’s not from a corporate chain restaurant. But now they’ve got the hottest new place in town, and of us on the westside are heading east more often. The reason is Plate 38, the place known for closing due to a fire just a few days after it opened last July. Owner-chef Robert Humphreys did not give up, and now the former Bonjour Bagel space is rebuilt and enjoying a robust business, and deservedly so.

Humphreys is a classically trained chef who has worked in such serious kitchens as Patina’s; here he set out to create the sort of place he wanted to stop by every morning for breakfast. As befits a serious, modern restaurant, he’s done things like hire a skilled, full-time pastry chef and make a commitment to using as much organic and locally sourced ingredients as possible. But he’s kept the look café-casual, the prices modest, and the culinary style friendly American: scrambles, sandwiches, burgers, Cobb salads, pot roast, bread pudding.

Best bets are the morning pastries (worth the calories) and scrambles; the well-constructed entree salads; the burgers on glossy brioche buns, which half the room seems to order at lunch and dinner; and the amazingly crisp and flavorful buttermilk-fried Cornish game hen, served with a fabulous biscuit, mashed potatoes and greens. It’s the best fried chicken we’ve had in Pasadena by a long shot.

As is true for all of us, the place could stand a few improvements. The house salad could be lighter and tastier; the burger menu needs the addition of a veggie or turkey option, or both; and the plain, hard-surfaced dining room could use a little warming up. That said, Plate 38 is pretty much the perfect everyday restaurant, Pasadena’s version of BLD, and we’re already counting ourselves among the many regulars.

Plate 38, 2361 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.793.7100, B & L daily, D Tues.-Sun. American. Beer & wine. AE, MC, V. $ – $$



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