Tiffany's turns to Thai
Popular midtown sandwich shop flourishes under new owners
By Dan O'Heron 09/05/2012
Last year, after nearly 25 years of doing business in Pasadena, A Taste of Bangkok restaurant lost its lease, but its silverware didn’t have time to tarnish.
Only a week or so after the closure in July 2011, owners Sue and Phil Balderama purchased and moved into Tiffany’s Coffee, a longtime midtown hotbed for sandwiches, snacks, sodas and coffees.
To help discard the painful recollections of those friends and guests they left behind, said Sue Balderama, “We got busy right away, plunging into remodeling everything but the essential menu, except to bring in higher quality meats,” she said. They tampered very little with long-popular sandwich making.
The redo includes a huge, new wooden floor that, besides looking good, provides a platform for those “given to dance at private parties.”
But why are they so eager to “start over” in a very tough business? Wouldn’t a sigh of, “Oh, not again,” seem more likely?
“For one thing,” said Sue, “we didn’t get any compensation from the landlord, so we needed to get back to work fast.” And, since they had been dangling uncomfortably on a month-to-month lease since 2007 — all the time searching frantically for a new location — husband Phil indicated they couldn’t resist Tiffany’s when it became available.
But did changing gears from one restaurant that served delicacies to another that packs sandwiches turn out to be a tough grind? “Not so much,” said Sue. “I retained the people who had put together these sandwiches at Tiffany’s for years.”
Not to get homesick, “I brought over my mortar and pestle to break down peanuts for a sauce I use for new chicken and pork satay sandwiches.”
These are only $1 more than 14 other sandwiches from the old menu. If you want to try any other Thai specials, “just ask,” said Sue.
Having written one of my first dining columns at A Taste of Bangkok, and enjoying its fare for many years, I’ll be pestering her a lot.
Instead, I opted for the old $4.95 hot pastrami, with its “higher quality” meat. My favorite pastrami had been the one served at Billy’s Deli in Glendale. Perhaps because Tiffany’s was served on a croissant, freshly baked in-house that morning for breakfast, this was much better. The buttery-rich, yeasty croissant, clamped together with dry-cured, highly seasoned pastrami — with dill pickle slices — fused into a perfect flavor
Other noteworthy sandwiches to meet the press that day — me and a pal — included one with fine ham and mildly smoky provolone cheese. Compacted with lettuce, tomato and pickle to imbue the features with extra flavors, it’s a dilly, as is the roast beef sandwich, and smoked sausage made with ground beef, pork and seasonings.
Of 19 sandwiches like these, which provide both hot and cold comfort, only two are priced at $6.95: baked chicken breast and the turkey avocado club. Besides croissants, bread choices include 10-inch French and wheat rolls — fulcrums for generous portions — along with sliced white, wheat and sourdough, plus assorted bagels.
Choosing from a wide array of condiments and fresh-cut vegetables, you can build your own sandwich. There’s an assortment of sandwich, chip and soda combos for $6.99. Or you can settle for house-made soups and a hot roll for $3.50. And, for $4.50, they’ve snuck in a Thai chicken/coconut soup and classic tom yum chicken and shrimp.
Desserts are house-baked. To quench, there’s seven-door cooler that has every soft drink imaginable. For the coolest — and a dessert in itself — an espresso bar pumps out a large, ice-blended caffe mocha, puffed with whipped cream and streaked with chocolate ($3.50). And, many from nearby Pasadena City Hall, Paseo Colorado and Ruth’s Chris Steak House come here just for a fountain of slushies and specialty coffees.
For quality and value, Tiffany’s is a natural. Reminded that the Balderama’s predecessor, A Taste of Bangkok, opened in a place once occupied by A Taste of Athens, naturally it should follow with this coincidental segue.
263 E. Colorado Blvd.,