Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cafe Verde, Pasadena

Another favorite spot in my Pasadena neighborhood is Cafe Verde, a little shoebox of a place hidden away on Green Street. From the first, the place appealed to me visually. I liked the painterly effect of the green terrace, cheery red walls, the sober and efficient service of waiters in black.

The food too, which could be described as Californian/Latin, is presented with care and flourish. The conscise and well-written menu includes American classics such as tomatoe soup, Cobb salad and Porterhouse steak, but I think the best dishes are those that lean towards Mexico.

First, the soppa de tortilla. This is a wonderfully smoky soup with a tantalizing bite, based on roasted onion, tomatoe and ancho chile. Corn tortillas are broken up into pieces and cooked in the broth, giving it body and a distinctive flavor. A rich earthy red, the soup is garnished with crispy strips of green and black tortilla and a white ribbon of sour cream.

The pasilla chile is the most popular item here and it's easy to see why. A poblano, the broad shouldered pepper with tapering torso, is singed and peeled then stuffed with cilantro, cheese and roasted corn -- a winning combination and perfect foil to the chile's heat. Chunks of grilled chicken and mushrooms are also tucked into the dark green pepper, nestled in a pool of ochre-colored pasilla sauce.

But the most delectable dish, to my mind, is the tostones -- little banana boats carrying morsels of buttery shrimp. Actually they are plantains, ripened to sweetness and fried golden. Compared to dessert bananas their flesh is firm and starchy to taste and it is lovely in the company of succulent shrimp, together smothered in a creamy sauce of squash blossoms.

I also like the contrast of good food in divey surroundings (the slap-dash Pie n'Burger, a third Pasadena favorite, comes to mind) but at Cafe Verde everything is a quiet feast for the eyes.
Cafe Verde 961 Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91006 tel. (626) 356-9811

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site loved it alot, will come back and visit again.
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7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Good job. Go on.
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9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:19 AM  

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