but if you're anything like 99% of the population, dating brings about butterflies and lots of questions. will we hit it off? what should i wear? too much or not enough boobage? and if you're the dude, you definitely want to conceal that beer gut and manscape a little just in case you get lucky. with all the questions and worries swirling around your noggin as you get ready for your date, here's one worry you can eliminate if you schedule your date at Ración in pasadena...the eats are solid and the ambiance is sexy. there. go make reservations now.
their basque inspired menu is divided into four sections: pintxos (served on bread), manos (bar snacks), tenedor (tapas), and cuchillo (larger entrees). everything is shareable of course and when you're on a date, it is best to share and let's face it, you're trying to create an intimate moment here over a tiny table sans ripping off each other's clothes.
to set the mood for your date, don't forget the libations. the sangria had a nice sweetness to it but won't get you buzzed at all so if you want liquid courage, order something else.
the meal started out with a complimentary amuse bouche. shhhh...it kinda tasted like crispy wanton skins to me :0
house-made bread with dots of raisins. a perfect platform to swipe up juices from various plates coming your way.
escabeche ($9) marinated mussels, shrimp, and calamari with peppers was a zingy tangy bite. soft in the right places, chewy in others. i'm soooooo not talking about your date right now.
soldaditos de pavia ($6) salt cod fritters with lemon cream. quite a hit these balls were with our group (hopefully a theme that will extend to the rest of your date). the light batter encrusting a savory soft fish flesh is a must order.
lengua on bread ($7) braised beef tongue, pickled spring onions, and honey aioli. you can never go wrong with some good tongue action and this was some good action.
calamar a la plancha ($7) caramelized calamari, melted onions, and lemon aioli. really tender pieces of calamari on bread. messy to eat as the calamari starts flopping all over the place, but the flavors are strong and savory.
arroz con gambas ($18) crispy whole prawns, lobster rice, bouillabaisse was hands down MY FAVORITE bite of the night. great flavors, prawns were cooked well, but the over the top detail for me was the crispy, crusty rice scattered intermittently in the dish reminding me of the hard, crusty rice you find adhered to the bottom of old school rice cookers. get this.
calamares rellenos ($15) duck sausage stuffed squid with brava sauce. let me tell ya, one step short of being a dainty version of a turducken. all kidding aside, it's very, very tasty and another favorite of the night.
almejas con chorizo ($10) littleneck clams, green garlic, and vino blanco.
pulpo a la gallega ($10) beer-braised octopus, fingerling potatoes, pimenton.
cochinillo ($16) the daily pork prep which turned out to be dry as hell. not the best savory dish to end the night, but the other fine dishes more than made up for it. lesson to self: pork should not always have an automatic green light.
sweet cubes of marshmallows to round out the night.
so there you have it. zone in on a potential date, make reservations at Ración, eat lots, drink lots, and have yourself a jolly good time. dating can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable but if you find the right match...boy is it worth it. and if you're a great husband who's planning out a date for his lovely wife to celebrate a special occasion, i suggest Ración for dinner and then a short walk over to tiffany & co....which reminds me i have to send the link to this blog post to my darling husband. :P
119 W. Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91105
verdict: tasty, try it!