I have had the pleasure of visiting the Congregation Ale House Chapters in Pasadena a few times in the last couple months, and I think it’s time I share my experience with everyone. Let’s do it!
The Congregation is a medium-sized ‘church-themed’ gastropub at the corner of Raymond and Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena, California. A step above fast-casual, is how I would describe this place. Much like fast food establishment, you order at the counter and they bring your food to your seat. If you order a drink, however, they will serve it to you right away! No tip required, but I’m sure they would appreciate some money in their “offering box.”
Patron Beware! While the ordering style is the same as a fast food restaurant, the seating availability is not. I would suggest having a friend scout a claim on arrival, while the rest of your party waits in line. This way you don’t get caught with a beer in your hand, food on the way, and nowhere to sit. Now, let’s get to my favorite part. The food and drink!
I’m a big fan sausage (insert insult here), and this place has plenty of it! If it’s your first time and you can’t decide on what to get, you can’t go wrong with the Duck and Bacon. This delightful sausage is served on freshly baked flatbread and topped with grilled onions, sweet peppers and mustard. It’s both simple and delicious. They also have Sweet Potato Fries, which are pretty good too!
If sausage isn’t your bag, do not fear. There are plenty of other choices that will satisfy your hunger at the Congregation. If you’re like me, you enjoy a good salad just as much as you enjoy a good sausage. If you are down with the greens, try the Grilled Chicken Salad. I know what you’re thinking; it’s a chicken salad, how good could it be? The key to this grilled chicken salad is the artichoke hearts and roasted Roma tomatoes. These delicious ingredients on a bed of arugula and mixed field greens, topped with balsamic vinaigrette make for a scrumptious light meal. Did I mention it is only $7? Also, this dish does come with blue cheese, so if you aren’t a fan, don’t forget to hold it!
The menu doesn’t stop there! They have plenty more sausages and salads to choose from, as well as burgers, sandwiches, sides and desserts, all of which you can check out at congregationalehouse.com before your visit.
Of course it wouldn’t be a gastropub without a great beer selection! In addition to the popular beers like Chimay and Stone, they have a huge selection of ale on tap that I have never heard of! What is also interesting about the Congregation is that their taplist is different at each location, which I think is pretty damn cool. I played it safe the first time around and ordered the Stone IPA, but my next visit had me wanting something new, so I tried the Clown Shoes Clementine. It’s flavor is as cool as its name. The crisp, lighter texture of this beer makes it very refreshing and its flavor will have you going back for more.
Parking can be a hassle if you decide to arrive any time after 7pm, but with the Del Mar Metro Station just across the street you can ride in on the Gold Line without worrying about it. If public transportation is a little inconvenient you can still get away with parking your car at the station for $2.
Well, what’s the Bottom line, James? The Congregation is pretty awesome. With most of the menu prices ranging from $7-$12, several televisions, good service and great people, you can’t beat it. It can get pretty loud, so I would definitely count this place out for a first date. Other than that, if you are looking for a spot to watch the game, grab a bite and get a drink, you don’t have to look any further than the Congregation Ale House Chapters.
Hey, Congregation Ale House! Fantastic!
Let’s be honest, the only thing better than a nice steak dinner is a good sandwich, and the only thing better than a good sandwich is a good salad, and the only thing better than a good sandwich, well, let’s leave that to the imagination. Add to any of those a good wine or beer and magic can happen. Although, I wouldn’t recommend beer with the sandwich; you’re just asking for a nap.
My point is this: if you haven’t been to Cafe 140 South and you live in Pasadena, you need to do so. Part of the Smith Brothers Restaurant Family, 140 offers quality food and service at a not-so-elevated price. However awesome it would be to review every dish on this menu, it just isn’t practical. However, I have visited 140 3 times in the last month and haven’t been disappointed.
Now, salads can be a tricky situation. When we visit a regular restaurant a lot of the time salads are saturated with a thick sauce that many like to call dressing. You can call it whatever you’d like; ranch, caesar, bleu cheese, but it’s all just one step away from being mayonaise, and covering your salad in it just isn’t right. However, cover a bed of mixed greens with a light balsamic vinaigrette and you’re speaking my language. Anyone can do that. Let’s get back to what makes this salad so… fantastic.
Let’s start with the ahi tuna. When the pretty waitress came back around after she served me my lunch, she asked me how I was liking my choice. I looked at her as serious as I could and told her it was delicious, but the tuna was a little undercooked. She immediately went into waitress mode and began to explain what seared means. I quickly told her I was joking and she laughed quite loudly.
Searing is my favorite when it comes to ahi tuna. It gives the fish that sashimi texture with a little bit of the grilled flavor. If you haven’t had seared tuna yet, I highly recommend it. Let’s not forget the shrimp. While tasty, they were nothing over the top, which is just right for this dish. A lot of people think you need to cover seafood in seasonings and sauces, but really less is more, that is, when you know what you’re doing.
What was very interesting with this particular salad was that it came with asparagus. Long story short, I’ve never had asparagus with a salad before. It was delightful. Again, nothing special. I assumed they simply steamed and chilled it before adding it to the salad. Along with a little bit of lemon, onions and tomatoes, this salad was complete. My restaurant experience was great, and I will expect it to be great in the future.
Hey Cafe 140 South… FANTASTIC!