Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bar Celona, Pasadena

I basically grew up in Pasadena. My family lives in Temple City and my sister and I spent many, MANY teenage/twentysomething nights in Pasadena, usually at the old E Bar or eating at many of the good restaurants the town had to offer. I remember my parents took us to a place called Julianne (not the one in San Marino) where I had my very first duck l’orange and I thought it was the best thing I’d ever eaten. Pasadena always had a festive, special-occasion quality about it and I spent much of my time there while growing up.

Cut to now. Pasadena, especially Old Town, has seemingly turned into a chain restaurant mecca, wait, the “high-end chain restaurant mecca” is more like it. Cheesecake Factory? Check. Il Fornaio? Check. Louise’s? Check. Houston’s? Check. Toss in a few strange fusion places like Thaitalian (wait, they went out of biz) and sushi-for-the-masses like Afloat Sushi (still in biz) and you have the odd, uninspiring food scene in Pasadena, save for a few gems like Vertical Wine Bistro, Parkway Grill (which has had it’s share of ups and downs) and Arroyo Chop House. Then Bar Celona came along………well, more like Chef Josef Centeno came to Bar Celona.

NOT Chef Centeno, but a patron of the restaurant that looked straight out of Spain, thus the photo!

Chef Centeno gained popularity while at Opus Restaurant and has brought new life to Bar Celona. I’d been there before his arrival and it was good, but now it is really special- I mean it’s food that hasn’t been available in Pasadena before, in my opnion. It’s SO NICE to go to my beloved neighborhood and sit down for plate after plate of inventive, fresh, creative and well prepared food such as the offerings of Chef Centeno and Bar Celona.

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