Pasadena's Twin Palms: Laughter fills the street as a restaurant is reborn

The sounds of laughter and music filled the Old Town Pasadena corner of De Lacey Avenue and Green Street once again as the new Twin Palms restaurant opened its doors Friday evening for a soft opening.

A steady crowd filled the open dining room, and it was like no time had passed since the original Twin Palms, opened in the mid '90s by the late chef Michael Roberts with an investment from actor Kevin Costner, closed its doors four years ago. Before its decline, the restaurant was a Pasadena nightlife institution, a destination for celebrities and the party spot for post-award show gatherings.


Now reborn, couples could be seen chatting excitedly on dark gray wicker chairs in the outdoor dining area, covered by a large white tent anchored by the restaurant's namesake twin palms. Every so often diners would glance up and point at the soft lights reflecting off the tent.

The atmosphere may have captured the old Twin Palms, but in the kitchen, chef Michael Neflas, formerly at Drago Centro, is doing his own thing. On the menu, a chicken liver toast with crispy chicken skin and a 63-degree egg, sweetbread corn dogs with a caper berry sauce and a corn ravioli made with reduced corn pulp and fresh ricotta.

Neflas is making his own pasta and offers a chef's secret special menu in addition to the regular menu. Diners can opt to have four courses made of whatever Neflas is dreaming of that evening. On opening night, he started with a gazpacho made with grapes, almonds, sherry vinegar and uni, a charred octopus with whipped potato, lardo, a paprika tomato sauce and fried garlic, a main course of black cod, purple cauliflower and parsley puree and a dessert of almond cake, homemade chocolate ice cream and peaches.

Throughout the evening curious couples and groups of twentysomethings popped their heads in and eventually made their way to the bar, filling up the bar area that separates the main outdoor dining room from the smaller interior one.

A small stage area that used to house live bands now plays black-and-white movies during dinner service. Eventually, a DJ will play music from the stage after dinner, Thursday through Saturday nights.

Twin Palms will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday beginning July 9. You can get in between now and Sunday for their soft opening.

101 W. Green St., Pasadena, (626) 577-4555