Monday, November 30, 2009

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

You'll seldom encounter a restaurant review here because I rarely eat out. When I do, I tear apart the menu, ordering completely uninspired items, plain and flavorless so as to not aggravate my allergies. As a creative person, I really respect chefs and their choices about how to prepare a meal, so I would rather cook myself than order and criticize a dish because I was not able to enjoy it how it was intended to be eaten.

This weekend, my in-laws were insistent upon taking us out for a "nice birthday meal," the four of us each having celebrated our birthdays in the past few weeks. My nerves started to build, not wanting to offend them by turning down dinner or pre-eating and shoving food around my plate at a restaurant. Then I remembered a new place the man and I passed by in Pasadena last week, 1810.

In the space formerly occupied by Gaucho Grill, 1810 opened in January and introduced an inspired and quaint eatery to the series of chain restaurants that line Colorado Boulevard. Greeted by a friendly hostess, we entered the brick walled and candlelit dining room, finding it to be sparse but cozy. My husband and I immediately began to reminisce about our Argentinean adventure. The waitress overheard and told us the owners are originally from Buenos Aires, so we poured over the menu, anticipating an authentic experience.

And the meal did not disappoint. Against my better judgment, I ordered the "wine special" from the limited menu, a Malbec and empanada for $7 and was pleasantly surprised. The empanada (from a selection of four--ham and cheese, chicken, beef, or spinach and cheese) was flaky and flavorful and the wine warm and fruity, perking me up and easing my eating-out phobias.

The main course selections were simple and highlighted quality ingredients. What caught our attention immediately was the Parrillada Mixta, or mixed grill. Would it compare to our experience in Buenos Aires? Much to our excitement, the meats were brought to the table on a little grill. The quantity was not overwhelming, but the quality of the meats was impressive. A good value, the mixed grill easily fed 2-3 guests with a crispy half chicken, beef, blood sausage, and a few mystery meats that were a welcome surprise. If you're looking for a good steak, ordering from the grill menu is the way to go. The 10-ounce Churrasco was perfectly seasoned and cooked to order, served with side dishes of garlicky mashed potatoes, rice, salad, or vegetables. The menu is rounded out with several "kitchen" dishes, chicken and fish with sauces and pastas, but being the carnivores we are, we didn't bother with those.

1810's cuisine is refreshing for both seekers of a special experience and simple food lovers like myself. And save room for dessert, or at least a bite or two of flan con dulce de leche to share with your table.

1810 Argentinean Restaurant
121 W Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105-1924
(626) 795-5658

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