THE RAYMOND 1886
A NEW ERA BEGINS
For years, The Raymond 1886 in Pasadena has been a favorite of mine, both for its fine fare and for its SoCal leading cocktail program. It has always been home to first rate comfort food and the best L.A. libations.
And after some changes to familiar faces, when the dust settled, the New Year saw beloved barman Jesus Gomez running the renowned 1886 bar program, new Executive Chef Jason Francisco heading up the kitchen, and Pastry Chef Mignon Jones dedicated to creating dynamite decadent desserts.
The Raymond’s new chef studied at Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas and earned his stripes at CUT Las Vegas, working for internationally-renowned Michelin-starred restauranteur Chef Wolfgang Puck, as well as at Michelin Starred Alize Restaurant at the Palms Hotel, and two Michelin-Starred Alex by Chef Alessandro Stratta. Precious time under Michelin-starred Chef David Myers (Sona, Hinoki and the Bird) at Comme Ça Las Vegas followed until Francisco made his way to Los Angeles where he trained under Michael Cimarusti at two Michelin-starred restaurant Providence as they developed the menu for the Pesce from the EATALY Group where Francisco worked as Chef de Cuisine.
That’s a lot of fine dining stars under Chef’s impressive belt.
Now Chef calls his cuisine “New Angeleno” and he is utilizing all of his skills and innovation to revolutionize The Raymond 1886‘s menu.
“I take a dish from a culture and reintroduce it to another culture, much like the way the denizens of Los Angeles intermingle,” Chef explains.
During our recent visit for dinner, of course we started with stellar cocktails and then dived into the Raw Bar section of the menu with the Hamachi Crudo featuring avocado mousse, pickled Fresno chiles, frisée, ponzu, salmon caviar, and togarashi; the Peruvian Scallops with wakame, salmon caviar, green apple and peach mignonette, petit mustard frills, and kelp oil; along with the Spicy Tuna with ahi tuna, crispy rice, pickled cucumbers, togarashi, kabayaki, and spicy mayo.
From there, our culinary journey headed to the Small Plates section of the menu where we delighted on pork belly wraps, bone marrow, and beets.
Let’s start with the bone marrow. It has been described as “pure primal at its most delicious,” which is an apt description considering this oversized Flintstones sized bone is big enough to have its own zip code. This bone marrow features a substantially sized roasted veal bone, crispy kale, marmalade, Dijon and toast. It’s a must-have and so very Instagram-able.
The Pork Belly Wraps feature crispy pork belly, green apple and peach kimchi, Bibb lettuce and sambal peanuts. It’s solid.
Not to be outdone, the Beets dish features a bonanza of Beets, including roasted beets, beet purée beet dust, goat cheese, pistachio, honeycomb, and micro basil. It’s a lovely manipulation of colors and textures.
From the Large Plates, we loved the Wild Boar Bolognese prepared with wild boar, pork belly, spicy calabrese, rigatoni, pomodoro, Grana Padano, and crispy sage. It’s a wild winning dish.
A hearty must-have that carnivores will feast on is the 20 oz. char-gilled Bone-In Ribeye served with pumpkin seed pesto and root vegetables. There’s a big smile on my face just thinking about this bad boy.
And make sure to save room for dessert. In fact, make it a bone marrow night as the Bone Marrow Crème is one not to be missed. A mix of butterscotch pot de crème accompanied by thyme shortbread cookies, vanilla cashews, strawberry compote, and bacon bits, it’s another dino delight. Another crowd-pleaser is the Velours Noir—the perfect fix for your sweet tooth. A mix of whiskey glazed chocolate cake, tiramisu batter, cacao nibble tuile, and chocolate macarons, kudos to Chef Mignon (love that name!).
It’s great to see The Raymond 1886 running once again at full speed. The bar program and its cocktails have aptly set the bar high for the rest of the city to follow and Chef Jason Francisco and his staff are creating elevated California comfort food that come absolutely pleases.
The Raymond 1886 is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm; dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 pm; and for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 2:30 pm. Call 626-441-3136.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Photography By: acuna-hansen