Abricott, the latest offering by the owners of Daisy Mint, gets rave reviews
By Erica Wayne 06/07/2012
The name of 4-month-old restaurant Abricott is nearly as quirky as its décor, but that’s nothing new. The proprietors, also the owners of 4-year-old Asian fusion restaurant Daisy Mint on East Colorado Boulevard, have gussied up both Pasadena locations in a similar creative pastiche of antique shabby chic furniture and fascinating accoutrements as beguiling as the food, which is no mean feat!
The artsy but sparse interior of their first restaurant, the now defunct Sweet Garlic in Monrovia, melded with all the other artsy interiors of all the other artsy restaurants on Myrtle Avenue. But the artsy interior of Daisy Mint, with its ornate chandelier and walls dappled with (mostly empty) picture frames, is a thing unto itself.
Abricott’s ambiance is, if anything, even more intriguing. Walk in through the front door and the space, formerly occupied by KooKooRoo, is knotty pine-clad (even the ceiling) with an airy side room facing Lake Avenue. Sit here and your tabletop is also pine, set onto an ornate wrought-iron base. Benches set against a pine wainscoting create banquette seating along one wall articulated with pine boxes set in semi-random patterns, a few containing orchids.
Enter through the rear door and your first impression will be quite different. The anterior dining area is long and narrow, with black banquettes, tables and chairs. There’s a nifty “private” dining nook at the back, from whose steeply pitched, taffeta-draped ceiling hangs a crystal chandelier above a long rectangular table. Every cranny is filled with used books of an incredible variety, inviting diners to escape real life for hours on end.
From either entrance, you eventually arrive at the semi-open kitchen/counter area, where you order and pay for breakfast, lunch, drinks and desserts accept a table-stand with a number and await the arrival of your order. Across from the counter and pastry display case are yet more little tables and bookshelves filled with good reads. (All books are “borrowed” from Book Alley, a great used book store at 1252 E. Colorado Blvd.)
While Daisy Mint’s menu is almost entirely Thai, Abricott’s boasts riffs on Vietnamese, French, Thai, Japanese, Korean and American dishes. Breakfast, served till 3 p.m., includes French toast ($6); waffles ($7 with syrup, $8 with fruit); eggs Benedict ($10 with ham, $12 with smoked salmon); croque-monsieur (a toasted French sandwich with ham, gruyere, mustard and béchamel for $8; and croque-madame (the same with two eggs for $10). An extra dollar buys a side of curried potatoes.
Lunch includes these same two sandwiches along with tuna crema (the Nicoise pan bagnat, a puree of tuna, anchovies and shallots for $7); Vietnamese banh mi with house-marinated pork belly and pickled vegetables ($8); Japanese caramelized pumpkin (kabocha) and onion ($8); Korean pork belly with kimchi ($8); ham and gruyere with truffle butter ($8); chicken pate ($7); and hamburger ($10). All except the two croques and burger come on baguette, most with shoe-string fries or a salad of spring greens.
Other entrees include: salade nicoise ($10); Vietnamese grilled shrimp salad ($8); sesame marinated flank steak salad with spicy lime dressing ($12); Thai green papaya salad with a grilled trout filet perched on top ($12); pork belly with jasmine rice and kimchi ($9); yellow coconut milk chicken curry ($9); and steaming bowls of pho, the Vietnamese beef-noodle soup, ($8).
At dinner, added to most of the lunch entrees are trout amandine ($14); mussels provencale ($14); braised pork belly with red cabbage ($14); and an 8-ounce sesame-marinated flank steak ($15). Plus, you get full table service instead of having to order at the counter.
As at Daisy Mint, most of Abricott’s food gets raves from professional reviewers and Yelpers alike. I’ve only begun to sample. At first, my trout and papaya salad appeared deceptively simple. But once I combined the sweet, mild fish with the shredded papaya, carrots, crushed peanuts, chopped red and green chilies and spicy sweet and sour dressing, it became my instant must-have lunch entrée.
My husband’s croque-madame served both late breakfast and early lunch needs. The two sunny side up eggs beamed fetchingly and cheerily bathed the sandwich in bright yellow streams as he began to eat. His fries were crisp, and his coffee was refilled twice. In other words, he left the restaurant a thoroughly happy camper, despite his initial gripes about having to stand in line and make up his mind in a hurry.
I’ve got to agree. It’s difficult to take in the whole array of offerings when hungry people are in back of you and the menus aren’t available until you’re at the cash register. If we’d been seated with the lists and hadn’t already paid, I’d surely have tried the coppa pistachio (custard, chocolate and pistachio gelato topped with praline pistachios for $6). We might even have shared a waffle with vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso ($8). Oh well, we saved a few calories by not noticing the sweets.
One caveat: Abricott is very popular and, at peak hours, very noisy. The tables in the interior dining area are closely spaced and conversations reverberate. We sat
in the front room and, even there, hubby was almost ready to cancel our order and leave. The sliding glass panels were open; and the sound of occasional rumbling trucks were, in his words, “completely unacceptable.” So, if you’ve got somebody as noise-sensitive as my mate, plan your visits to Abricott (and they will most likely be multiple) for times when the restaurant is less likely to be full.
238 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, (626) 796-1613 abricott.com