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Lincoln Pasadena

Nov 18, 2014

Lincoln Pasadena_RestaurantYes, I admit I’m one of the people who drove by Christine Moore’s new restaurant, Lincoln Pasadena, three times before I found it.

My chef friend, Lisa, is joining me for breakfast and is looking for the location, too. The GPS on my phone indicates that Pasadena’s newest restaurant should be right here, at the very spot in which I am idling.

Finally—and it takes me way too long to get to “finally”—I figure out, 1) that I have the wrong address, as somewhere I had read and retained 1991 Lincoln Avenue rather than number 1992, and 2) I wasn’t imagining a building set back from the street.

 

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I take one turn around the small, packed parking lot and quickly find a spot on the street. The building has been painted a gentle, welcoming grey with “Lincoln” painted on the side, an arrow piercing the “o”. I meet up with Lisa and aim for a glass and iron door, but it’s locked and I quickly realize, slightly embarrassed, that one must walk into the patio area and enter from the side.

Stepping into Moore and her partner Pam Perkins’ Lincoln Pasadena is like stepping into a working kitchen with seats. Lots of seats. And tables. And candy. Lots of candy. The ceiling of this former machine shop rises loftily with periodic support beams that appear strong enough to hold up another fifty stories atop it, and large skylights allow plenty of natural light.

 

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The color palette is concrete, cream, metal, blonde, beechwood, white, and black. Blossoms of color come in the shape of purple and white orchids on the counter and the table that accosts customers waiting to order.

 

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This 6-foot table (above), besides holding an extraordinarily large copper (?) display bowl-on-a-pedestal, which holds a sizable pumpkin, is laden, stacked, and tiered with candy. This should not be surprising coming from the woman who lured us with melt-in-your-mouth, buttery caramels at Little Flower, but this is an assault on my not-ready-for-the-holidays formidable waistline.

On offering: an “autumn” mix of milk chocolates; homemade candy corn in the sophisticated colors of muted orange, white, and gentle brown; and bags of florentines and almond thins, each bag tied with a lovely bow, only cellophane between these handmade, delicate, irresistibly-looking cookies and my tastebuds.

 

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Behold, foil-wrapped chocolates, handmade lollipops, sweet and sour gummy pumpkins, at least four different kinds of massive rice krispie treats—and this is only on the left side as one walks along, waiting to order.

 

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On the right side is not mere cellophane but impenetrable glass to keep our paws off heaps of scones, croissants, morning buns, sticky  buns, muffins, and pretzel sandwiches.

 

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As I’ve asked Lisa to accompany me in order that I may write a review of Lincoln, we order more than is fit to be consumed by two persons in one sitting and the young woman at the cash register can’t quite believe what she’s hearing as we ask for a butter croissant, an almond scone, a sticky bun, and two lattes. Her eyes expand and her eyebrows raise when we move on to the actual breakfast entrees. As in four. (And yes, that was fun.)

We pay, take our number, and carry our plate of pastries out past the expansive main room to sit in the patio, chockablock with modern-style tables with attached benches, which is in the same family but the opposite of the traditional hulking, bulky park picnic table. New plantings grow along the side concrete wall, above which loom two skinny palm trees with the San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop. Location, location, location.

With a cornucopia of dishes having arrived, let’s be methodical…

 

No. 1 – Pastries

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The almond scone is topped with a spread of glaze and a sprinkle of almonds. As I visit the restroom, Lisa cannot resist a taste and by the time I return, she has passed judgment. She likes the flavor and the dry, crumbly aspect of the scone. I yearn for toasted almonds (an irresistible flavor that, I believe, is under-utilized) and scones of the British variety, which tend to be more moist and like a biscuit. But Lincoln’s scones are generally what you find nowadays in America (and it’s not like I didn’t eat it).

The look of the mini sticky bun is perfection, the flavor is on point, though we both think the dough is heavy, a tad tough, and needs to be lighter and fluffier.

The plain croissant, on the other hand, sends me back to my first trip to France as a 17-year-old high school graduate—free for the first time from parental restraints with three more months of freedom ahead of me. I remember buying my first croissant in a quaint bakery not too far from Versailles, then walking outside, pausing, taking a bite, and knowing that this was as close to heaven as one might get on earth. Lincoln’s croissant are of the same ilk: flaky with a slight crunch on the outside, wispy breaths of dough on the inside, and melting buttery goodness on my tongue. Lisa completely concurs, as she licks her fingers.

 

No. 2 – Parmesan eggs with crème fraîche and grilled toast; $9

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These eggs are whipped and cooked to perfection. They are light and fluffy, and not scrambled into little tiny pieces. It takes several bites to find the Parmesan, which Lisa and I agree we’d rather it didn’t, since it’s quite tasty once found. I am delighted that when a request is made for black pepper, a fresh pepper grinder is brought to the table—I shall remain a loyal patron to all of Moore’s establishments simply for the fact that if black pepper is desired, I am obstinate in believing that freshly ground black pepper is the only black pepper that is appropriate, and far too few cafes and casual restaurants invest in them.

My ultimate take-away for this dish is that perhaps nine dollars is a lot to ask for scrambled eggs and a piece of toast. Lisa does not agree per se, but I admit I am not a fan of black-edged toast that comes from toasting bread directly on a grill as the taste too easily overwhelms delicate flavors. We both wish the eggs were served on the plate along with the greens and toast rather than having the eggs in a dish with the greens stuffed along the edge of the plate where it is hard to eat them or to mix them with the eggs, which is what Lisa is wishing to do.

No. 3 – Lincoln Huevos Rancheros with white beans, cilantro rice, fried egg, and cotija cheese; $10.50

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I think this is a yummy dish and as can be seen from the serving size, it’s enough food to keep one full until dinner time. It’s not a traditional huevos rancheros, Lisa says, as those are served with softly fried tortillas on the bottom to use as a base for the eggs. The dish reminds her more of chilaquiles. The basmati rice is simple with not a lot of cilantro flavor coming through, but the salsa verde is good. The pinto beans are a bit bland for Lisa; there’s a large serving of them and she would enjoy them more seasoned. We do both agree, though, that our fried egg should not have been fully cooked. The fun of this dish is to have the liquid yoke spreading throughout. I enjoy the flavors enough that I would order Lincoln’s huevos rancheros again in hopes that the egg is properly prepared next time.

No. 4 – Gravlax with brown bread, lemon crème fraîche and capers; $12.50

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The gravlax, Lisa and I agree, has a wonderful flavor and is tender. With the addition of red onions and capers, I’m pretty close to happy, but the brown bread mentioned on the menu is actually more a seed and carrot bread, which along with the toasting straight on the grill, overwhelms the flavors in my opinion. To my taste, pumpernickel bread would blend with the flavors more appropriately.

No. 5 – Carrot Fritter with lemon crème fraîche and greens

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I admit a carrot fritter is not a dish I would choose if I were on my own; carrots do not arouse my culinary interest. But Lisa was inclined and I yielded. I’m delighted I did as this is the dish we enjoy the most. There’s something reminiscent of a falafel to this fritter, which Lisa and I both like, and it’s well seasoned. A taste of cumin, possibly? The fried shallots are crispy, the chopped chives an added flavor, and the mint pea spread alongside the creme fraiche is simply delicious. Underneath is a bed of greens with a tasty lemony vinaigrette. The textures and flavors work very well together and we’ll order this again without hesitation. (I promise to adjust my view of carrots accordingly.)

Lincoln Pasadena, 1992 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena 91103. Monday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tel.: 626.765.6746. LincolnPasadena.com. More details may be obtained on the Lincoln Pasadena Facebook page.

Let me not forget to suggest that after your fill, with your hunger satiated, you stroll over to the backside of the next building over. This is part of Perkin and Moore’s domaine as well. Eventually, a private room for dinner parties will be available, as well as a wine store and a take-out espresso counter. At the moment, the Lincoln store is open to the public, and it’s currently decked out for Christmas with trees and ornaments, and full of handmade items (including pottery by Sharon of MANN Handmade) and interesting tchotchkes—perfect for holiday shopping, yes?

 

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1 Response for “Lincoln Pasadena”

  1. Great article! Can’t wait to go there.

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