It was the start of the holiday weekend, so half the businesses in Pasadena were taking the afternoon off, and at least half of them packed Houston’s Restaurant for late lunch. The popular place at 320 S. Arroyo Parkway was still very busy when we arrived for our 2 o’clock reservation. We snagged the only, rather distant, parking slot, and were warmly welcomed and seated within minutes where Sabrina, one among several attractive, efficient servers clad in smart, black outfits, welcomed us with a warm smile and a run-down of Friday specials. A glance at the $9 to $15 per glass vintage list indicated the upscale menu prices at this darkly-elegant, soft-lighted, spacious establishment. My Pavia Pinot Grigio ($9) was crisp and cool, and my friend went for Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc ($12) and it was to his taste. The per glass scale amounts to $45 up to $60 per bottle. There‘s also a full bar… The starter selection was pretty uninspired, so we opted to share smoked salmon with crispy toast points, excellent for two at $15.
Burgers and such run from $14 to $18 but we were in an entrée frame of mind which meant $19 to $32 plus a $5 salad option. My friend was pre-disposed to order the flavorful, tenderly-marinated Hawaiian Rib Eye; grilled over hardwood, $31 with a single side. (His request for bread brought uninteresting soft white rolls for $2.) My slow cooked to a tender turn BBQ ribs were fall-off-the-bone treats at $27 with a refreshing scoop of coleslaw. The shoe string potatoes had been so over-salted that I requested and promptly got a replacement portion. (Note to the kitchen: there are salt shakers on every table, so best leave it to the patron’s taste buds to sprinkle the sodium.)
Trendy to a fault, Houston’s also serves sushi and rolls from $12 to $18. For those who crave dessert, sweets include a walnut brownie or apple walnut cobbler ($7).
Even though our lunch tab was extravagant, the service and entrée appeal here are undeniable.
Palate rating for Houston’s — three stars for cuisine ambiance and service, two stars for value.
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