Once the guest cottage of the famed Raymond Hotel, an abode with celebrity allure since its founding during the place’s namesake year, The Raymond 1886 transitioned into an eatery more than 30 years ago and continues a rich legacy of hospitality in South Pasadena. Now with a new chef at the helm and an ever-evolving menu, this historic destination melds LA’s evolving culture with its iconic past.
Quaint and cozy fill every room in this labyrinth of a structure—which seems about three times the size of its true square footage—with dark wood and rustic features emulating a true 19th century feel. A new patio is found outside each window, each secluded and intimate in its own right, with small fountains casting a tranquil background chorus. The crowd spans across young families, elderly couples and large millennial groups, but the one thing they all have in common is the desire to sleep in: the brunch rush doesn’t start until about noon.
The menu is every bit as classy as you’d expect, with a healthy touch of fun added to your brunch classics. Executive Chef Jon Hung, younger brother of acclaimed LA Chef Michael Hung, is proving that there’s just something in the water for that family to produce such culinary talent. Delightfully tender steak and shoestring frites, heavenly biscuits topped with rich chorizo and perfectly cooked eggs, and a Dutch baby German pancake with seasonal berries and whipped cream create a spectrum of flavor for the palate to choose from.
Hung does get a slap on the wrist for his ‘al pastor’ breakfast burrito, which places just a paltry amount of meat atop an enormous burrito that should be filled with fewer [albeit delicious] eggs and more of that great pork. But he mostly makes up for it with his devotion to wholesome ingredients and scratch-made sauces. His pastry chef also churns out a decadent cinnamon roll…order extra cream cheese frosting!
Bar 1886, or just ‘The 1886,’ delivers an equally high-end cocktail program, plugging deep flavor into some very strong drinks. You’ll find your classic Bloody Mary, a mimosa sweetened with housemade curacao, and a beautiful Ramos fizz gin, a play on the sloe gin fizz, with whipped egg white orange peel to look like a sunny side up egg when viewed from the top.
The Raymond 1886 is located at 1250 Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105. Open 11:30a – 2:30p and 4 – 10p Tue – Fri, 9a – 2:30p and 4 – 10p Sat – Sun. Closed Mon. Avg. out-the-door brunch price for split pastry, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$58/person. For more information call (626) 441 – 3136 or visit TheRaymond.com
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is your classic friendly neighborhood steakhouse. White tablecloths, plush booths, servers lad in chef whites and fancy dessert carts put Davio’s on somewhat of an endangered species list in this day and age of modern chic, but with 25+ years of history on the east coast, this place is making big bets on comfort, coziness and iconic charm. Those 25 years, however, were built up with steakhouse grade hormone-free cuts, homemade pastas and a menu that brings timeless and new age dishes together.
Davio’s 3,000-mile journey out west brought it to a business park in Irvine, where needless to say they’re killing it on power lunches and business dinners. But the experience goes much further, with corporate clientele coming back dressed down and with families in tow. The newest offering is Davio’s Sunday Brunch, which is picking up steam as a high-end weekend dining destination.
If you’re looking to make your Sunday afternoon fun and fancy, with a feeling of privacy and seclusion, plus the unbelievably rare opportunity to actually make a brunch reservation, you just got a solid go-to with Davio’s. Ridiculous beef tenderloin Benedict and a crab omelet with crab ‘impossibly everywhere’ are just a preview of how this steakhouse takes brunch to the next level, complemented beautifully with a bloody Mary cart complete with fresh bacon, jumbo prawns and virtually anything else you can put in a morning cocktail.
The full Italian steakhouse experience is readily available at brunch as well, with hand-rolled potato gnocchi, fresh lobster rolls and of course an array of classic steak and seafood options. And whatever you’re craving, you owe it to yourself to start with the spring rolls. Far from your typical Far East dish, these variations are stuffed with Philly cheesesteak, Reuben, chicken parmesan and east coast specialties that allow Davio’s to show off its historic roots.
Davio’s did adapt to SoCal quite well in its ambiance, finding a location with tons of natural light and an expansive patio. It makes it that much easier to enjoy another bloody Mary, glass of wine or craft cocktail. Then that dessert cart comes out and the hardest decision of the day is whether to go with the molten chocolate cake or the panna cotta. Make it easy on yourself and just get both.
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse is located at 18420 Von Karman Ave, Irvine CA 92162. Open 11:30a – 10p Mon/Tue, 11:30a – 11p Wed – Fri, 5p – 12a Sat, 11a – 10p Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$85/person. For more information and reservations call (949) 477-4810 or visit Davios.com/Irv.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.