THE RAYMOND 1886
A CONSTANT STANDOUT & FAVORITE
Amidst the competitive and cutthroat L.A. food scene, there are clear standouts and favorites. Some restaurants shine because of stature, some for flash and others for just constantly crafting pleasing cuisine. The Raymond 1886 may not be flashy nor one’s first choice if you don’t feel like trekking to Pasadena, but you can always count on it to serve stellar fare.
For over 39 years, The Raymond 1886 on South Fair Oaks Avenue has been delighting diners with its delicious dishes. While the restaurant’s bar, 1886, has proved itself to be the best bar in the Los Angeles area, bar none, the restaurant, led by Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan, never disappoints.
“When people come to The Raymond 1886, they are going to have a unique experience,” Chef Tim explains. “There is nothing about this place that mirrors anywhere else.”
Indeed, the building was once a caretaker’s cottage for the grand Raymond Hotel in the late 1800s and now offers a comfortable yet elegant dining experience is a homey setting. Recently I spotlighted L.A.’s best fried chicken sandwiches, a current craze among local foodies, and declared The Raymond 1886’s tops in the city. And Chef’s Dry Aged Prime Bone-in Rib Eye for two is one of the best steak dinners I’ve ever had.
Beloved by many as a great steakhouse, Chef’s pride and joy are his fish dishes, which he declares the best in Pasadena. Guiltinan admits that his style of cooking can be tough to pin down, saying, “We take our influences from all around the world.” But what ties his menu together is the careful attention he pays to ingredients, making nearly everything, including tortillas, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and even his XO sauce, from scratch.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with lovely libations (how could we not?) before indulging in one of my favorite dinners of the year. And one of my hands down favorite dishes was the incredible Grilled Alaskan King Crab—consider this a must have to share. A dazzling delight served with spicy Szechwan “Mála” sauce and watercress, this plate can also serve as a delectable entrée. The crab was so fresh and so rich and better than any lobster dish I’ve had. Props to Chef Tim for this grand slam winner.
Another fish favorite of Chef is his Herb Rolled Wild Albacore with key lime, cucumber, chile, and tarragon-fennel vinaigrette. It was simple yet delicate and delicious.
And another standout was the Cedar Planked Vegetables with roasted seasonal organic vegetables with a classic aioli dip, this night featuring a fine charred mix of Brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots and asparagus. I can’t remember the last time a plate of veggies tasted this good.
Not to be outdone by healthier options, the Salmon Creek Pork Belly with pickled and roasted Cipollini, fried apple puree, fennel, and Korean chimichurri was a favorite, as was the decadent Octopus and Bone Marrow Bruschetta, which pairs rich marrow and tender octopus with radish, carrot and tomato on toasted bread. These are both excellent dining options.
As I mentioned, Chef love’s his seafood selections and you can’t go wrong with the Hawaiian Pacific Swordfish grilled with yellow tomato coulis and panzanella, or the Hand Harvested Scallops seared to perfection and paired with Chinese black garlic, quinoa “fried rice” and fresh edamame. There’s no need for guilt with these fine choices.
If you’re not up for the Flintstones’ sized bone-in rib eye (it’s so good!), the Grilled Hanger Steak served with elote puree, summer squash, pico de gallo, and pasilla Oaxaca will delight any meat lover. Pair this with a nice glass of red wine, which is aplenty at The Raymond 1886 as the wine program is first rate, and your dinner just went up to a whole other level of badass.
If you saved room for dessert, then Pastry Chef Raymond Morales aims to take your dining experience to new heights with his decadent delights by playing off Chef Tim’s menu by utilizing similar ingredients and incorporating complementary and contrasting textures and temperatures.
“My style is fun and whimsical, but approachable,” say Morales.
And you can’t go wrong with the High on Fire with walnut oil dark chocolate ganache, Applewood smoked salt caramel, caramelized arlette made to look like planks of wood, smoked brown butter powder, dark chocolate sorbet and walnut cocoa soil. Excellent!
I’ve been very fortunate to indulge and enjoy some out-of-this-world meals this year, fare from celebrity chefs to fine dining in celebrity hotspots, but it’s often the simple, unassuming locations that often really do it right. While I know that I can always count on 1886 to serve the best and boldest and most daring cocktails, the same can be said for the cuisine at The Raymond 1886, which has never served me anything but a fine meal, from brunch to lunch to dinner. Whether it’s the best fried chicken sandwich or the best steak dinner or sensational seafood, I can always count on Chef Tim and The Raymond 1886. And that makes it a standout and a favorite.
The Raymond 1886, located at 1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30am to 2:30pm; dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30pm to 10pm and for brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2:30pm. For reservations, call 626-441-3136.
Photography Courtesy Of: The Raymond 1886
Story by Jose Martinez