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Taste of DineLA Pasadena

For those that do not know about DineLA, you’ve come to the right place.  About twice a year, restaurants across the Greater Los Angeles area including Pasadena and South Pasadena offer special 3 course menus for both lunch and dinner.  There’s a variety of restaurant and prices.  Dinners range from $25 to $45 per plate.

This always presents a great opportunity to try some new restaurants or revisit some old-time favorites.  This summer’s DineLA promotion runs through July 26th so there’s a few days left to savor some of the local offerings.

I’ve visited three restaurants this time Maison Akira, Cafe Bizou and Il Fornaio.

Cafe Bizou

I picked Cafe Bizou for my birthday celebration because it had a nice selection of items both on their regular and DineLA menu.  I’ve been to Cafe Bizou before both in Pasadena and their Sherman Oaks location and even though it’s not a fancy restaurant, the atmosphere is pleasant and the food is good.  However, to be honest, this time it was a total disaster.  Not only did we do a lot of waiting, which honestly, I do not enjoy in restaurants.  Something about being hungry and having hungry guests and waiting over an hour to get your meal does not go well together.  As well as almost all the items that have been brought out were either unseasoned or cooked to death and unedible.  I hate to say this, but it was by far one of the worst evenings out in Pasadena to date.  I think Cafe Bizou is calling out for Robert Irvine from Restaurant Impossible for help.   Too bad that it had to be on my birthday.

DineLA Price – $25 per head

Maison Akira

Maison Akira more than made up for the disaster of the night before by serving a memorable dinner.  It is by far my favorite restaurant in Pasadena.  Chef Akira never fails to make every  bite truly heavenly.  The staff is wonderful from the first phone call to the greeting and the service during dinner is superb.  It’s like a well oiled machine.

DineLA Price – $45 per head/$65 with wine pairing

Appetizer:  Grilled Asparagus with Salmon

Grilled Asparagus and Salmon Appetizer

Main Course:  Maple Leaf Duck Breast

Maison Akira - Maple Leaf Duck Breast

Dessert:  Flourless Chocolate Cake

birthday candles irina



Il Fornaio

Il Fornaio is an Italian restaurant located in the heart of Old Pasadena in the One Colorado Courtyard.  They have a beautiful outdoors seating area and a plenty of seating inside.  You can always count on wonderfully warm and crispy bread to be served with oil and vinegar.  The food was served timely and very satisfying.  I particularly enjoyed the beet salad and my salmon.  And, the waiter was able to substitute mixed berries for dessert.  They were a nice touch to a wonderful meal.

DineLA Price – $35 per head

Second Course:  Grilled Salmon with vegetables (asked to hold potatoes)

Grilled Salmon Il Fornaio


Dessert:  Mixed Berries (not on the DineLA menu, but the waiter was able to bring some instead!)

Berries at Il Fornaio

Which restaurants have you visited for DineLA?  Care to share your experiences?  My friend Mike from Cafe Pasadena just wrote about the Market on Holly.  You can read about it on his website.

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