Instead of watching Top Chef two Wednesdays ago, Eddie and I ventured out to Pasadena for dinner at The Dining Room at the Langham Hotel, where current cheftestant Michael Voltaggio is Chef de Cuisine. GoogleMaps actually did send us on an adventure through some of the hotel's narrow, winding side streets, which resulted in much "oohing" and "aahing" as we passed by incredible, multi-million dollar homes.
The magnificence of the Langham certainly fit in with the neighborhood. Based upon its appearance the hotel had a lot of potential to be snooty, but all of the staff members we encountered were friendly and hospitable. Even if we did roll up in a very dirty, 12 year old 4Runner.
The Dining Room currently feels very formal and slightly stuffy. However, there is a planned renovation beginning early next year. As I expected on a Wednesday, it was a fairly slow evening. We were tucked away at a table along the back wall, not unlike this one.Shortly after being seated, our waiter asked if we would like to see a menu. I confidently replied, "No." Eddie & I were there for the chef's tasting menu; we wanted to get right down to business. Our waiter seemed stoked at this news. That made me happy. In fact, all of the servers who waited on us that evening were incredibly friendly and happy, as was the sommelier. As a guest, I could feel the sense of teamwork between all of them.
I have to admit though that my happiness level dipped a bit when I saw our amuse bouche: Chips and salsa with queso fresco. This looked like powder with a dollop of jelly. I eyed it suspiciously before scooping everything up into the teeny tiny teaspoon that accompanied it. Much to my delight all the ingredients melded together in my mouth and tasted exactly like chips and salsa with a bit of queso fresco. We were off to a good start.
We had a wonderful evening at the Langham and are already planning a return trip after the renovations are complete. I really can't say enough about the quality of the food and service. In the meantime, as Top Chef: Las Vegas winds down for the season, we are Team Michael Voltaggio all the way!