After seeing an Eater LA article about a new French Dip specialist arriving onto the scene, one of our friends insisted we join her to try this place out.
It turns out Harlowe’s is a few doors down from Old Town Pasadena favorite, Union. The interior is dark wood accents and lots of HDTVs broadcasting sports games. They also have a solid Beer menu and tap list (featuring offerings from The Bruery, Firestone Walker, Phantom Carriage and more).
Smokey Deviled Eggs:
The filling of “La Fin du Mustard” with Shallots and Chives made for a surprisingly delicious Deviled Egg. It had a nice little mustard-y kick to it, and was better than the Deviled Eggs we had at Terrine recently.
Simple Greens (House Cut Greens, Cranberry, Sunflower, Almonds, Grapes, White Balsamic Vinaigrette):
It was sadly overdressed. However, beyond that, the actual flavors were very good! The Greens were very fresh (didn’t taste like the typical Mixed Greens offered at most places), with the Almonds, Grapes and Cranberries working well with the White Balsamic. They just used too much dressing.
Spaghetti and Meatballs (Marinara Sauce, Reggiano):
Now at this point, the menu (and our dinner) was starting to look strange LOL. It’s a French Dip specialist, but they have a variety of Salads & Greens, Deviled Eggs, Shrimp Cocktail, and now we’re getting Spaghetti and Meatballs?!
Our server mentioned this was one of their specialties, so we gave it a try. And shockingly, surprisingly, their Spaghetti and Meatballs were quite good! Not in a “Scarpetta it’s so good that we’ll charge you $25 for a small plate” sort of way, but just down-to-earth, really solid Spaghetti and Meatballs. Some of the best we had in a while, and better than Union’s down the street.
Fried Chicken Wings (Sweet and Spicy Sauce):
These were too salty. Really salty. They were going for some type of Asian flavoring on them, but the Salt drowned out everything else.
The Roast Beef Dip (Beef Au Jus, Side Horseradish):
We opted for a 6 oz carve (for an additional $2) over the standard 4.5 oz portion. One caveat: I don’t eat French Dip Sandwiches that much, so I’m not an expert. The Roast Beef Dip had a decent beefy flavor to it. It was tender, slightly moist, but also a little dry. When dipped in the Au Jus, so that the French Bread soaked in the Beef Broth, it made the whole sandwich a lot more palatable and interesting.
It was tasty, but nothing really special either.
Salt Brine Kennebec Fries (House Ketchup):
But then we get to their Salt Brine Kennebec French Fries. WOW! These have an amazing crunch and crispiness to them, with a good potatoey inside, still soft and moist.
I immediately thought of @wienermobile’s plea to find good French Fries LOL , and these were really, really good! They were some of the best Fries we’ve had since Connie & Ted’s. These were the highlight of the dinner!
We had to go back and try more of the menu.
Fried Green Tomato (Marinara, Eggplant Caponata, Mozzarella):
This was a weird fusion of ideas, tasting like Fried Green Tomatoes, with a “Meatball Sub” type of taste with the Marinara and Mozzarella (even though it’s Vegetarian), and the Eggplant Caponata added an interesting twist to the taste. The Fried Green Tomatoes were still slightly crisped and overall it was solid.
The Braised Lamb Dip (Lamb Au Jus, House Labneh):
This was much better than the Roast Beef Dip. But it was Braised Lamb with an almost Moroccan tinge to the flavors, so that probably helped to make it stand out even more, and a nice gaminess to the Lamb. It was also a nice touch to serve it with Lamb Au Jus (with the Roast Beef Dip served with Beef Au Jus). It just helped to reinforce the flavor profile.
Salt Brine Kennebec Fries (House Ketchup):
We had to order these again, just to make sure it was consistent. And? Just as amazing as the first time! Seriously awesome Fries, crisp-crunch exterior, soft interior.
The Burger (with Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, House Pickles, Secret Sauce, Sesame Bun):
Their Burger is made of a custom blend of Chuck, Short Rib, and Brisket in a 5.5 oz patty. Sadly, there was no beefiness to this Burger. It tasted fine as a “gourmet” style Burger, but it had no depth of beefy flavor like Golden State, Belcampo, Father’s Office, etc.
At least it wasn’t overcooked, and they used Heirloom Tomatoes on the Burger, which was a nice touch. It felt like their homage to the Big Mac or something like it.
In the end, Harlowe’s French Dip is a friendly, relaxed place to enjoy the latest sports games, or just to grab a bite to eat in the area. Their menu is all over the place in terms of variety (they even have a Bison Chili, Shrimp Po’ Boy and other wide ranging flavors on the menu), but some of them work surprisingly well for a French Dip specialist.
We’d go back for their amazing Salt Brine Kennebec Fries, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and maybe try their Turkey Dip (with Turkey Au Jus) next time.
Harlowe’s French Dip
43 E. Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
Tel: (626) 535-0985