While I loyally patronize most of our local restaurants, once in a while I like to venture outside the Foothill communities to try something new. Last month I drove down the 2 Freeway for a unique lunch at Minx, the exciting upscale venue that opened late last summer on the hilltop site of the former Rusty Pelican in Glendale.
Innovative executive chef Joseph Antonishek treated a small group of food writers to a sampler of his new box lunches. We hopped up on comfy stools at the chef's table, a sleek, kidney-shaped polished wood table overlooking the dining room. The "lunch box" is nothing like the one I packed for my kids. A shiny white square plate is divided into four sections; salad, entrée, side dish and dessert appear together. It's a quick, fun lunch for the gourmet diner.
I tried the filet mignon, encrusted with hazelnuts and cocoa nibs. I didn't love it, but it was amusing. On the other hand, the New England pot pie with Maine lobster, jumbo shrimp and shellfish was a solid winner — a succulent, generous filling comes lidded with a puffy hat of delicately browned, crisp pastry. I highly recommend the fish taco box, too. The taco is also served on the late-night lounge menu.
Chef Antonishek honed his skills in the kitchens of celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and New York's darling, Jean George Vongerichen. His menu is a mix of comfort foods for the less adventurous and new flavor combinations for the risk takers.
"I like to draw on influences from all over the world and try to harmonize flavors that people may not expect," Antonishek commented.
My friends have visited Minx for lunch, dinner and late-night nibbles in the lounge; they give high marks to Glendale's first glamorous dining destination. Bob and I are looking forward to having a weekend brunch on the patio as soon as the weather warms up.
Our daughter Amy went to Old Pasadena for the debut of a new wine bar, redwhite+bluezz. Andre Vener, former CEO of the California Philharmonic, opened the wine bar and restaurant a few months ago in the historic Edison El Rey Building at the corner of Raymond and Green.
"For years I've been looking for an establishment that brought together my favorite things: great wine, cool live music and fine food—a place where you could spend an entire evening enjoying the best entertainment, food and drink. Other places might have had one or two of the elements, but I could never find a place that had it all. So I decided to open it up myself," Vener explained.
Amy and her friends report that the artisan cheeses presented with the wine flights did not disappoint. Sommelier Russ Meek has paired wines from around the world to a varied menu that offers light bites and hearty meat entrees like a 26-ounce prime rib chop. Chef Gabriel Contreras' mustard-honey glazed halibut is a hit with a growing group of regulars.
Blues and jazz performers take the stage at redwhite+bluezz on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Amy rated the hospitality at the front desk as top-notch. "They made us feel so welcome," she said.
In one week, three different couples told me they'd had terrific dining experiences in South Pasadena at Bistro de la Gare. Two of the couples had been fans of another bistro nearby but switched their loyalty to Bistro de la Gare based on the quality of the food and a relaxed, more comfortable atmosphere.
One gal wrote to me: "I asked the young doctor here about it (his wife is French and both love to cook). He said it is very authentic. The lady behind me specially asked for the potatoes au gratin as the side — must be great...The sauces were delicious...We were pleased and decided to come again."
Check out the prices on the classic menu of onion soup, escargot, rack of lamb and steaks. No sticker shock here. Bistro de la Gare is a budget soother. Both Zagat and Elmer Dills praise the helpful, courteous French waiters.
Valley Sun readers who like to cook are in for a treat with this week's recipe. Chef Antonishek of Minx shares his version of red snapper on a bed of baby carrots exclusively with us.
Five Spice and Star Anise
Braised Baby Carrots
4 red snapper filets
1 tablespoon Five spice
2 bunches of baby carrots,
peeled & stemmed
3 cups carrot juice
3 inches ginger root,
peeled and sliced thin
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 limes cut in half
2 Thai red chilies,
stemmed and sliced thin
Salt & white pepper to
Preheat oven to 400 de
Season each snapper filet evenly with the five-spice powder and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Reserve.
In a heavy bottom baking dish place the baby carrots, carrot juice, sliced ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, limes and chilies. Season lightly with salt and white pepper.
Place on top of the stove and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Write Lynn Duvall at firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Valley Sun.