Pasadena’s “Pop” Falls Flat

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Being that I had the day off, Carina and I worked on some business at school for about 4 or 5 hours. Like the relentless party goers that we are, we headed into the night and frequented a few local hotspots.

We started off at Burbank Bar and Grille, where a co-worker of mine was having her going away party. We talked some witty banter while we dined. Carina had a tuna melt, which I suspect she was un-impressed by because she made no note of it. Carina is quite the expert when it comes to tuna melts; she orders it every opportunity she gets. I had the honey chicken brie burger, which was far from stellar, but hey it was a mere 10 bucks. We also came to a couple of conclusions that night when I happened to be wearing an “Army” shirt while she was wearing a tie-dye one (I swear it wasn’t planned). In reality, she is the BlackBerry and I am the iPhone. She is also onion rings while I am the french fries and yet we still feed one another.

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We proceeded into Pasadena where we picked up our lively and busty friend, Morgan, and went on into the Pasadena night. We thought we’d try a new place I had never been to before, Pop Champagne and Dessert Bar. Carina had tried it once but wasn’t thrilled about it, while she liked the Happy Hour Bellinis was not impressed the poor quality prosciutto. However, in uncouth gourmands style we thought we’d give it a second shot. When we got there the place was about half full, the music not too loud, backdrop was nice, and the rows and rows of glowing champagne flutes sparkled with bubbly pop. We were further convinced of the joint when we encountered a very attentive bartender who despite the busy night spent a good amount of time educating us on the (sparkling) wine selection. Carina even nominated him for our “Pasadena Fav Bartender” award which was left oh so vacant by Brian, of Lucky Baldwins, when he moved to Atlanta. (note: fear not he’ll be back in July!) At any rate, we were having a good time. We then started handing out our famous napkins to several recipients.

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So was Pop good? Not quite. I had a bellini which was sweet but just alright. And the flight of pinks I had were cheap and awful. The prices? Not very recessionary. About an hour or so into the visit, the manager/owner, Kristin, came up to Morgan and said “Can you tell your friend to stop soliciting our customers?” Morgan responded, “Are you serious?” While holding back her smirk she said, “Yes”. What a nasty lady! I wasn’t so angry as I was let down that this cool space was soured by one person – and the person in charge no less. We got our stuff together and paid our bill, over $80 for 3 flights, and 4 bellinis. As we were leaving I handed Kristin our napkin which read:

“We may write about you. uncouthgourmands.com Thanks for the ambiance”

So Kristin, here we are! Or better yet, here you are. The center of Pasadena’s food blogging paradise. I hope that given this economy and your un-recessionary prices you start treating everyone with the same amount of respect as you do your “regulars” which you so kindly engaged with while we were there. Also perhaps you should also take a look at the open email that was sent to you on Yelp by Tim E. that I read this morning.

Bottom line: Thumbs down! I’d think long and hard before ever coming back. I think an apology should be in order. The reason you were speaking to Morgan was because strangers were coming up to Carina talking about restaurants in San Gabriel and there was a whole group on their iPhones looking up the site and asking me questions about the content. If you own a bar, you should be used to people interacting and pick your battles. You turned what could have been very positive cross promotion into negative press, not smart.

We headed to Barney’s for last call and a better presence of people. Barney’s never disappoints. Plus, we ran into the king of Pasadena Nightlife, The Captain. One thing is for certain he will remain a Pasadena presence for far longer than Pop.

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Lastly, I’d like to address the “funny guy” whom I suspect was at Pop and while ogling over our breasts decided to write a VERY distasteful comment here on Uncouth Gourmands. I’m not going to approve it because while he is absolutely entitled to his opinion, this is OUR space and I don’t appreciate the disrespect to undermine our intelligence and bust size. I tried to write to the email address you listed, however, I see you chose the cowardly route and the e-mail was undeliverable. A small note to you and your smallness:

The blog is a launchpad to something bigger, of which I cannot disclose due to legal reasons. Contrary to what you may think, we ARE cool and you will see more of us, unlike the untactful halfway decent likes of you. Thanks again and sorry you were UNABLE to enjoy the blog, let alone understand the name it bears. The Los Angeles Times and EatingLA seem to think we’re noteworthy.

Best regards,

Josie

Out and About in Pasadena

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Let us first begin with the Wahoo’s Pasadena incident that took place on Sunday, we will be presenting this to you from two different points of view. (BTW, I was trying to find a picture with us separately but in the same place so that is why you will see both of us in front of a giant foot in a museum in Prague, Czech Republic. I have no idea but I think it works).

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Josie’s Review: In our ongoing quest for the soothing presence of a great taco, Carina and I sought out the “hippest” taco joint conveniently located less than a half mile from her place. We got to Wahoo’s, a seemingly unpretentious spot whose walls are dressed in a collage of old magazine clippings and stickers. We sat down with a wide-array of goodies and a back up of beer in the fridge already paid for. So it’s Sunday and we’re getting a little tipsy, right? We then move on to passing out our infamous and oh so intriguing “uncouthgourmands.com” napkins. In my alcohol induced courage, I had the idiotic gesture of giving the napkins to little kids. Not a smart move on my part but hey it’s not like content is rated-R (maybe it is actually). Hey, we’ve never presumed to be muted brunettes and we do like to shake things up a bit. And after all, we get restless when we find things in too much order and there were absolutely no bad intentions.

Unfortunately, for us the waitress/self-proclaimed “manager” disagreed. We were sitting there enjoying a less than “average” meal, which we justified in the exchange of good service and a good ambiance. However, about 45 minutes into our meal and a handful of “handouts” later we were confronted by a mildly repulsive plain girl of good stature and weight brazenly telling us that “the napkins were very expensive and that we please not write on them”. An obvious affront because -well, we eat at a lot of places and- they were quite far from expensive. It was then that my drunk wore off and reality began to assert itself. I felt consumed with anger, while suffocated with furry. I could no longer be civilized and I give her a small piece of my mind. However, I think I exacerbated the situation. I wish I had the super human self-control of my better half, Carina, but I felt very much pressured by the “manager’s” overtly aggressive tone 😦

Bottom Line: On the UG grading scale, Wahoo’s gets a DD. Dull and disappointing. The food was mediocre at best and the environment was ruined by the condescending attitude of the wait staff-primarily the mis-shapen waitress that ruined my meal.

Therefore, my pick for best “hip” tacos in Pasadena goes to Fred’s. An easy eat, cheap, and a wait staff that will go through hoops to make any patron happy. For taste, I got nothing but love for the countless taco trucks decorating the streets of my hometown. Kudos!

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Carina’s Review: I have a lot of silly food/weight beliefs that are nonsense but I tend to believe anyway, one is that if I know that one thing I eat is low in calories then all other things consumed that day don’t matter. Case in point, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, they have 45 calorie tortilla soup which is awesome: light broth and very cabbage based. I was in for lunch last week for the first time at the Pasadena location. I used to go to the Burbank mall location and before that every time my friend Sunshine and I would drive to Orange County Wahoo’s would always be a stop. I grew up in Santa Cruz (where there are no Wahoo’s) and yet there is something that seems very familiar and homey to me about that place, I am sure it is the surfer/skater vibe and the fresh seafood. I know Josie is allergic to seafood but I knew she would like it there so I recommend we go after waking up after a long night of partying (see blog entry below). She was stoked (see, SC surfer influence) on the $1.85 beer of the month beer: New Castle for March. Within one second of ordering a waiter dropped a plate of food on the ground. I turned to Josie and said, “I knew this was your kind of place”. She nodded and smiled we drop food and plates all the time and find it charming.

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After the spillage we knew that was the table we wanted. We ordered food and drinks. I had tortilla soup (of course) and shrimp enchiladas and Josie had chicken nachos and a carne asada burrito. She was pleased by the amount and it was fine for what it was, mid ranged mexican fast food.

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The service was also good. I asked to sample the beer on draft after I finished my Dos Equis and the cashier meant to only give me a sample but said he “forgot” so I got a free glass. It was a fun morning. Sure we were laughing more than most (as we are in almost any venue) and slightly obnoxious but really weren’t bothering anyone. Josie did say, “Come here little boy, do you know how to use the internet?” We got a puzzled look from the father asking why we were talking to his son. We said we are going to need Generation Z soon and that kids are way more technologically advanced. We all laughed and had a fine talk and everything was cool, we actually met a lot of cool people. Including a solar backpack maker that I recognized from my days on JDate. That was why it was so perplexing when the manager on duty was so blatantly rude. A napkin is a napkin and I watched them used several more when cleaning up the spilled plate of beans. This woman ruined my lunch and I wanted nothing more than to get out of there. Wahoo’s was started by Brazilian surfer brothers ans nothing about her emulated that laid back welcoming vibe. She was plain rude, I don’t know what her problem was: was she a nasty person? Did we flirt with her crush, the waiter or the cashier? I don’t know. She turned something that could have been great cross promotion for Wahoo’s and Uncouth Gourmands into something nasty and negative.

So Wahoo’s while I admire your 45 calorie soup, plump shrimp, and sticker covered walls I can’t endure your particular employee. Especially, when I live blocks away from a Sharkey’s (crazy about the Sharkey’s Naked Chicken Salad), two Rubios (great fish tacos), and Baja Fresh (I never eat there). The best taco in terms of foodie caliber in Pasadena is definitely La Estrella but sometimes a girl likes a chain (remember I am from a town where almost no chain restaurants exist) mid level not so fast food mexican restaurant.

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Yesterday was a much more pleasant day with no rude managers on duty to ruin our meals. We first hit up the just opened Sabor 2 that replaced Metropolitan Tea & Coffee right by my house. I was excited to go because I used to frequent the one on Hollywood all of the time when I lived in Los Feliz. Note: All of my exes used to live in that neighborhood bordered by Gramercy-Franklin-Normandie -Hollywood. Oh and I nannied up the street for several months. Anyway, I always loved the vibe there and their mexican mocha. I already ate so just had tea and Josie had a panini and a frozen something rather. It was a cool vibe but kind of a strange space not as intimate or cozy as the one in Hollywood. I recommend bigger tables and no chalk near where people stand but I will get to that. We were having a fine time until I looked down and noticed that my denim jeans were technicolored. I thought maybe someone made a mistake at the fluff and fold and then I noticed that the chalkboard under the bar where you order was smudged. I apologize but not great placement Sabor.

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I was so embarrassed I could have hung myself on the noose made of cords above us.

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Thankfully, Josie joined my uncouth moment club by making one move and taking almost everything on the table down with her. We disrupted the whole place, she screamed, it was a typical UG day out, and when Josie investigated she found that a loose screw was the culprit.

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It was a place with potential and we liked the uncouthness of it, like the unisex bathroom that features a toilet and a urinal separated by a purple divider.

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I am sure we will come back for the free wifi, the casual environment, and the Acoustic Music Night on Saturday, which have yet to experience.

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We met up later for a rated G night in Old Town. We ate dinner at Kabuki, see we are some the only food bloggers not opposed to chains. It was a good, not great, meal but sometimes that is all you want. We shared Gyozas, I had an oriental chicken salad (that totally hit the spot), Josie had a veggie roll, and a bento box that featured three layers of chicken. It was a fine meal and my only real complaint is that you had to make an odyssey to the bathroom. I reffered to it as the toilet trek. I really shouldn’t complain, it was good for me, I even went to the gym today (first time in a month) as I realized while it isn’t bikini season here yet I am going to Costa Rica in less than 2 weeks and it is there. Oh yes, I must not digress, here is the food.

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We came to two epiphanies during dinner.

  1. I was saying that for a food blog we sure have a ton of pictures of us drinking and while I know we drink a lot we also eat a lot and why was that not documented. We came to the conclusion that it is because as soon as food comes we dig in and never remember to take pictures. Drinks come all night and the drunker you get the more you think it is a good idea to take your picture. So we are working on taking pictures before our first bite because as we’ve learned if you take one bite, it will lead to multiple bites, and we will have nothing left to photograph
  2. When we don’t drink, aside from iced tea and hot water with lemon, our bill drops dramatically. Josie looked shocked when the bill arrived, I can’t remember the last time we had dinner under $40

After dinner we headed to the Apple store in Old Town Pasadena to say hello to our new friends from the party last weekend. None of them were there and we decided to do some more guerrilla marketing. We typed our blog address in to several of the computers laughing. One of the employees joined in our laughter and said, “Looks like a good time”. It was.

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Afterwards, we headed to our favorite neighborhood beer bar, Lucky Baldwins. But it just wasn’t the same without our favorite bartender, Brian, who is in Atlanta now. We left without even ordering a drink. To keep with our G rated Old Town night we endured the constant line at 21 Choices and got some FroYo it is way less sterile than Pinkberry and in my opinion tastier. Plus it is so much fun to see what kind of toppings everyone gets. When someone had good/interesting flavor combinations I would tell them about Uncouth Gourmands if they didn’t we ignored them. It was a good barometer. I think it should be a barrier of entry into our club and events. Although, we were kind of boring that evening. Josie had vanilla with granola and I had mango with peaches, raspberries, and yogurt chips.
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