Monday, August 09, 2010

No. 176: Intelligentsia (Pasadena)

So this is what it feels like to be the most popular kid in the cafeteria . . .

Bagged Lunches from Heirloom LA
. . . a bagged lunch ($13 for the farmers market veggies one) from Heirloom LA, now available at the newly-opened Intelligentsia Pasadena. Since I was running errands all day today in preparation for a road trip along the California coast, this ready-to-takeout meal (along with a cup of coffee, of course!) was a great way to enjoy a little deliciousness on the go.

So what's inside the bag?
Heirloom LA bag lunch
A "perfectly sized" veggie sandwich (I placed it by the fork for scale), a container of potato & arugula salad and a wrapped muffin-cup sized tin of chocolate-hazelnut-banana bread pudding.
Farmers Market Sandwich
Making up for the sandwich's small size is its huge flavor, from the fresh-tasting roasted veggies (carrots, eggplant, zucchini and pepers) to the sweet & savory pumpkin puree, just a touch of garlic and herbs plus some cheesiness from the mozzarella and parmigano reggiano. It's definitely one of those sandwiches that saves well and even get better with time, with the different ingredients melding together and the cheesy bread soaking up the flavors. A heavenly half-dozen bites, though I definitely wish I could have a half-dozen more!
Roasted Potato Salad
When the Intelligentsia barista/cashier told me the sandwich came with a potato salad, I was expecting something heavy, mayo-laden, onion-breath-inducing; so it was a pleasant surprise to see a version that's comparatively light, not to mention tangy, herbacious and slightly sweet. The wedges of roasted potatoes are accompanied by wilted arugula, what I think is balsamic-caramelized shallots, sprigs of rosemary in a honey-ish vinaigrette. For someone expecting a heavier or more savory potato salad, this might be weird or even a turnoff but for someone like me who has a sweet tooth and loves cleaner and crisper flavors -- it was a 'no contest' against the traditional varieties that I can never stand eating more than a few bites of.
Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding
Finally, the chocolate-banana pudding with bits of hazelnuts . . . again, deceptively small in apperance but big in taste, absolutely divine in dark chocolate flavors and just rich and gooey and great even served chilled (though now I can't imagine how it'd taste when reheated up!) A wonderful, indulgent finish to a light lunch and in hindsight, that sandwich is indeed 'perfectly sized' since after the pudding I felt satiated and not bloated and guilty (though I still wouldn't mind a few more bites of the sandwich.)

And as expected, the La Maravilla coffee from Guatemala ($3.50) was top-notch and an surprisingly good match with my bagged lunch. It was clean and crisp on the palate like the sandwich & the salad, with some fruit-backed cocoa notes like the bread pudding. And with just a slight hit of bright tanginess, it made for a great palate cleanser between courses without overwhelming the tastebuds.

Of course, now I can't wait to enjoy all the rotated-daily lunch items they serve in-house.

What Do Others Say?
- FoodGPS's Joshua Lurie provided a "what to expect" report for Feast LA.
- Mattatouille attended the media preview (and snapped a photo of me!) and simply called it "one of my favorite places in the city" and looking forward to more from their menu, beer & wine selections and of course, the coffee.
- Gourmet Pigs gave it a first look from the media preview, found it "a definite upgrade in the space that used to be Wok 'n Roll . . . [and] easily the best restaurant in Old Town"
- LA Weekly's Squid Ink filed a more objective outlook but said it's "a beautiful space"
- LA Times' Daily Dish also provided a brief report and some photos from the media preview
- Eater LA checked it out in soft opening phase, deemed it "appropriately hipster-marvelous"
- Gmangoman also went during its soft opening, called it it a "much needed addition to the Old Town Pasadena restaurant mix"

A few more photos on my flickr set here

Intelligentsia
55 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105
626.578.1270
Twitter

Also:
Heirloom LA's website & twitter

7 comments:

burumun said...

Oo so that's what the bagged lunch looks like. Pretty good for $13 and I'm glad it comes w/ dessert!
(also: now that's a real potato "salad")

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

great post! I absolutely love heirloom la! the whole meal sounds yummy. I might drive to Pasadena just for this!

Diana said...

That looks amazing! I love the idea of pumpkin on a sandwich - may have to try that at home since I doubt I'll ever be able to make it out to good ole Pasadena for a lunch break!

The Duo Dishes said...

Ooooh, that potato salad sounds like a 'must try'. Bet it would be easy to replicate at home.

Anna A. said...

Mmmmmm looks like yummy fun! I've had heirloom's lasagna cupcakes before and they are bangin for sure.

Exile Kiss said...

Hi H.C.,

Thanks for the post. I'm going to have to visit the new location when I visit my Pasadena friends. The non-coffee items sound wonderful. :)

kitchen tables said...

I want to know where that restaurant located is. I want to try their foods. I can see in the photos that they offer great foods. I am so interested.

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