Thursday, December 18, 2008

Barney's Only Place In Town

There are very few restaurants anywhere I have eaten at more than The Only Place In Town Cafe (I would say only Hutch's and In-N-Out can compete.) When I was a kid I would eat there frequently with my grandmothers. My parents got food to go from there many times. For several years I worked down the street and would eat there a couple times a week. I could always count on seeing between one and ten people I know there.

About three years ago The Only Place In Town was purchased by the owners of Barney's Ltd. in Old Pasadena. I have never been a big fan of Barney's. Some of their appetizers are decent, and it's enjoyable to listen to live music there every once in a while, but the majority of their (huge) menu tastes completely bland to me. (Their chicken gyro, reuben sandwich, and turkey burger all taste pretty much the same, and all are served with lousy fries.) However, they kept many of the old OPIT items on the menu, including my favorite: Maggie Wong's Chinese chicken salad.

Just the other day my friend and I were doing some Christmas shopping in Sierra Madre and we stopped in for lunch. It was cold out but very pretty, and we sat close to the window. We started with an order of fries. They were better than I remembered, but still not very good. Like most restaurants that serve steak fries, many of the pieces were undercooked.

I got my usual salad. It was very good, as always. The main draw for me is the dressing: a ginger and oil dressing that goes perfectly with the chicken and crispy noodles. My friend had the flat iron steak salad. I took a bite and was not impressed, however the next day, after the leftovers had been in the fridge overnight, I had another couple bites and they were much better.

I do wish Barnery's had not bought the place and the old menu was still intact, but at least they didn't try to turn it into a replica of the Old Town location. It's not as nice as it used to be, but it's still decent.

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