A Relaxing, Neighborhood California Farm-To-Table Restaurant (with Excellent Pasta) - The Arbour [Thoughts + Pics]

We’ve been fans of Chef Ian Gresik for awhile now. As Chef de Cuisine of Drago Centro for years, he (along with Executive Chef-Owner Celestino Drago) made consistently solid-to-great Housemade Pastas at the Drago flagship in Downtown L.A.

Thanks to a small news blurb on Eater LA that Chef Gresik left Drago to open a new venture on his own, we were able to try out his new restaurant last year (opened by him and his wife), this time focusing on California Farm-to-Table cuisine.

Walking into The Arbour, which has a rather nondescript exterior in a relaxed commercial area (near a Macy’s and Pottery Barn Kids), you might be taken aback by how warm and spacious the inside turns out to be:

Glancing over the menu, we were a bit apprehensive at first: After all, Chef Gresik was known for very dependable and tasty Italian dishes and especially the Pastas at Drago Centro, how would that translate to California cuisine? Thankfully we found a couple Pasta dishes to go along with the rest of the menu. :wink:

(Complimentary) Housemade Rolls & Herbed Butter:

These could’ve been a throwaway dish, but Chef Gresik and his staff have created delicious Housemade Rolls that are served piping hot with some of their Housemade Herbed Butter! :heart: (You can get additional refills of their Housemade Bread if you want. So tempting!)

Shaved Fennel Salad, Butter Lettuce, Cherries, Bacon, Champagne Vinaigrette:

Clean, bright, fresh. The Butter Lettuce and Shaved Fennel tasted like something just arrived from a local farmers market. Loved the Cherries and Bacon combination. :slight_smile:

Tagliatelle, Crumbled Pork Sausage, Rapini, Chili Flakes, San Joaquin Gold Cheese:

Excellent! Chef Gresik’s Handmade Tagliatelle Pasta was toothsome, the Pork Sausage was zesty and had nice salinity without being too salty, and the bit of heat from the Chili Flakes and San Joaquin Gold Cheese provided a nice overall touch. Definitely something that hearkened back to Chef Gresik’s tenure at Drago Centro. :blush:

Crab Pappardelle Pasta, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Lemon Zest:

Very good. The Arbour’s Crab Pappardelle didn’t skimp out on the Crab, with plenty of lightly briny (in a good way) Crab meat, the Basil, Lemon Zest and Handmade Pappardelle were a great combo. :blush:

Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Crispy Garlic Rice, Baby Bok Choy, Soy Hollandaise:

This was fine. High quality Yellowfin Tuna with a nice sear on the outside with the majority of it served Sashimi-style / rare. The Soy Hollandaise provided a nice, vaguely Asian influence along with the Baby Bok Choy.

2nd Visit:

We saw enough potential that we wanted to see how Chef Gresik and his team would progress over the following months.

Seafood Salad, Crab, Shrimp and Shellfish, Parsnips, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette:

This was enjoyable, but the menu description of a “Seafood Salad” and the actual plate were different things for us. :sweat_smile: I was thinking there’d be more greens / Parsnips, like a “Salad,” whereas the final dish was more of a Chilled Seafood Appetizer (that was quite fresh and tasty).

Tagliatelle, Crumbled Pork Sausage, Rapini, Chili Flakes, San Joaquin Gold Cheese:

Even more delicious this 2nd time around! Loved their Handmade Tagliatelle with the crumbled Sausage and bits of softened Rapini. :heart:

(Special) Uni (Sea Urchin), Shrimp Tagliatelle Pasta:

As we were glancing over the menu, our server mentioned, “And our special tonight is an Uni Pasta…” I blurted out “Yes please” before she could finish. :smile:

The Chef de Cuisine of Drago Centro doing an Uni Pasta? We couldn’t wait!

Taking a bite:

Gloriously rich, beautiful, fresh-tasting (nearly flawless) Santa Barbara Sea Urchin which was infused not only in the lovely Uni Sauce, but also in lobes atop the Pasta. The meaty bites of plump Shrimp rounded things out.

This was fantastic! :heart:

One of the best Uni Pastas we’ve had that year. :blush:

Sadly, we never saw it offered again on our later visits, but hopefully they bring it back soon!

Sea Bass, Asparagus, Shaved Fennel, Chickpea Cake, Lemon Zest:

The Sea Bass had a glorious pan seared crust! Crisp-crunchy, and the actual Fish was moist and tender within, medium-rare. Definitely some nice chops to achieve that. :blush: The flavor with a bit of the Shaved Fennel, Asparagus, Lemon Zest? It was fine. Nothing too exciting, but I loved that crust.

3rd Visit:

Surprisingly, our Pasadena friends hadn’t heard of The Arbour yet, so we met up with them to try more of the menu (and secretly, I was hoping to get the Special Uni Pasta again). :wink: (Sadly, it was not on Special on this visit.)

(Complimentary) Housemade Rolls & Herbed Butter:

Still as delicious as before, piping hot, a nice creamy, lightly herbed Housemade Butter to match the Rolls. :slight_smile:

Fig Salad, Romaine Lettuce, Mixed Greens, Prosciutto, Crispy Onions, Red Wine Vinaigrette:

A safe, solid Salad with bites of fresh, earthy Figs and nice pops of porkiness from the Prosciutto. The Crispy Onions were fine, but a touch too greasy.

Bucatini Carbonara:

First, the Bucatini Pasta was outstanding! Nice chew and density, but supple and it was a good way to capture the luscious creaminess in this Carbonara. The Pancetta was nicely crisped and added some porkiness, but it wasn’t as fragrant as the Guanciale used with Bulgarini’s Carbonara.

Otherwise, the creaminess, nice hit of funk from the Parmigiano Reggiano and the barely cooked Egg (to mix all together)? Another wonderful Pasta dish! :heart:

Sea Bass, Asparagus, Shaved Fennel, Chickpea Cake, Lemon Zest:

Garlic Crusted Chicken Breast, Fingerling Potatoes, Green Beans, Onion Cream:

The Garlic Crust was definitely garlicky, a huge exterior covering that helped keep the Chicken Breast moist within.The Onion Cream gave some additional flavor, but overall it felt rather safe and fine.

Heritage Pork Chop, Soft Polenta, Caperberry Gremolata, Violet Mustard Vinaigrette:

A very good Pork Chop, thick cut, meaty, just cooked through to a medium-well. I liked the Violet Mustard Vinaigrette to help offset the natural fatty meatiness in the Heritage Pork Chop. :slight_smile:

4th Visit:

Steak Salad, Romaine, Spinach, Crispy Onions, Asparagus, Feta Cheese, Sherry Vinaigrette:

This was a spectacular Steak Salad! :heart: It sounds a bit blase these days, but we were pleasantly surprised by how good this was. It starts with the excellent medium-rare Steak. We forgot to ask which cut it was, but it was beefy, tender, meaty, but not overly chewy or tough like too many versions around town.

It’s balanced by the Romaine and Spinach and Asparagus, but you get little bursts of pungent Feta, creamy and rich, and then the Sherry Vinaigrette to offset the heaviness. The Crispy Onions didn’t overwhelm like in the previous Salad. Delicious! :blush:

Tagliatelle, Crumbled Pork Sausage, Rapini, Chili Flakes, San Joaquin Gold Cheese:

First, it seems they had some customer feedback, or changed things up slightly, but this lunch version of their Tagliatelle Pasta with Crumbled Sausage was about 150% of the size of the previous Primi version (for $4 more). It was even better than the previous visits, and definitely a staple that’s representative of Chef Gresik’s strengths. :blush:

The Arbour feels like a restaurant still finding its legs, and perhaps fighting its “origins”: Chef-Owner Ian Gresik was a standout at Drago Centro, and helped to deliver some consistently good Italian Pastas for years at the Downtown L.A. flagship. We respect him wanting to try something on his own, and with The Arbour being billed as a Farm-to-Table, California Cuisine type of restaurant, it’s open-ended as to what it could be.

The majority of the menu feels like it’s very dependable, but perhaps too safe: A variety of Salads, some Chilled Appetizers (Seafood Salad, Oysters, Crudo), Hummus, Corn Soup, and some reliable, solid Entrees (Seared Sea Bass, Yellowfin Tuna or Trout; Chicken Breast, Pork Chop, NY Strip Loin).

But when we think back on our visits, it’s the Handmade Pastas that stand out. But the menu only features 1-2 Pastas per evening. It’s almost as if Chef Gresik wants to break away from the Drago Centro shadow, but it’s clear that’s also his greatest strength: His Uni Pasta was absolutely delicious! We’d gladly return for his Bucatini Carbonara and the Tagliatelle Crumbled Sausage Pasta as well.

The Arbour is currently offering Takeout and Delivery options during the pandemic. Here’s to hoping they survive and come back with more Pastas and a stronger identity. But even as is, we’d be glad to return if we lived in the neighborhood. (@ElsieDee and others.)

The Arbour
527 S. Lake Ave., #120
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: (626) 396-4925