A Bit of Los Olivos in South Pasadena – Crossings Restaurant Relaunches

Of the moment, yet not on the nose, Crossings in South Pasadena is your newest Los Angeles dining destination. Crossings uses hyper-local ingredients for its hyper-modern California cuisine. You’ll love it. I did. And don’t let Crossing’s off the beaten path location deter you – you won’t find food this good, a vibe this cool, and a wine list this extensive, anywhere else in Southern California. It’s the fine dining establishment South Pasadena needs, the of one-of-a-kind restaurant that, before iPhones and Instagram and Yelp, you felt lucky to have stumbled upon and discovered.

Crossings is located in the beautiful and historic Edwards & Faw building on Mission Street. The stately exterior may have been built in 1908 but the 2-story interior and outdoor patio has been gutted and re-envisioned by designer, Tamara Honey. Honey has also expertly curated the fascinating artwork on the walls. There’s not a bad or boring piece on the walls in the house.

But you’re here, first and foremost, for the food (and the wine). Crossings opened in 2013 and has been a staple in the neighborhood since, but in February announced a relaunched menu with chef Kevin Malone. Malone has worked at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos (a favorite) and Gargantua, a pop-up in Santa Monica. Malone’s new menu features a new brand of seasonal California cuisine that you can feel good about eating. Not only that, but due to the open kitchen, guests can tell it’s also food Malone and his team feel good making. Their camaraderie and joie de vivre permeated the lounge-y and relaxed dining room. Ingredients are sourced as close as a nearby garden and as far as Santa Barbara. Malone’s favorite activity, for both business and pleasure, is frequenting the farmers markets in South Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Hollywood.

On our rainy evening visit, we started, of course, with a cocktail. The Praying Burro – made with Charro Blanco Tequila, pineapple, lime, Crossings’ ginger syrup, and KimoSabe Joven mezcal. You won’t want just one, but with a wine menu as great as Crossings’, you’ll want to pace yourself. And just because one must sample the Old Fashioned anywhere they go, get the Fancy Free – made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Luxardo, Angostura, and orange bitters. It might be the best Old Fashioned this side of the 5 Freeway. Which reminds me, Crossings is just a few steps from the South Pas Gold Line stop. If you’re coming from Hollywood, like we were, it’s easy as pie to take the red line and transfer at Union Station. If you do drive, there’s plenty of street parking and valet.

Chef sent out the Hamachi Verde – snap pea, kaffir lime, cucumber, serrano. It’s the perfect dish to begin the evening – light, fresh, with just enough heat to stimulate your palette. It pairs perfectly with that Praying Burro. We also ordered a half dozen oysters because, like with an Old Fashioned, when you’re trying a new restaurant for the first time the oysters are usually a good harbinger of what’s to come. Crossings’ oysters, with mignonette and finger lime, were natural and crisp and left our table excited for our Chef Malone’s upcoming dishes.

The standout hors d’oeuvre, even if it may have been a bit undercooked, is the Roasted Sunchokes. The sunchokes are roasted then bathed in a delicious orange glaze and habanero. That our table had to have an entire conversation on who got the last sunchoke, even if could have been a bit softer and easier to slice in half with a knife, speaks to Malone’s skill and familiarity with balance and flavor.

Next up the Mushroom Salad – Umami Purée, Maitaki & Beech Mushroom, Spinach, and Vanilla Sherry. This is another dish that will undoubtedly make you return to this South Pas outpost. The mushrooms are cooked sous vide for 16 hours. And you can tell. The mushrooms are exquisite – delicate, refreshing, and simply not something you can find anywhere else. As with all of Crossings’ hors d’oeuvres, the plates are perfect for sharing and lean vegetable and greens centric. Menu items also include: Heirloom Carrots with Carrot Purée & Oatmeal Crumble, and the Gem Salad – Anchovy, Bacon, Bread Crumbs, & San Joaquin Gold – and the no frills Baked Potato with Chives, Crème Fraîche, & Crispy Potato Skin. I mean, seriously crispy potato skin. And that’s one of my favorite aspects of Crossings, vegetarians and pescatarians can leave happy.

Of course, for the carnivorous Crossings does not disappoint. But we’ll get to the entrees after a glass of wine (or two). Crossings wine list is presented via an iPad, presumedly because the wine list just won’t fit on a conventional printed menu. It’s delightfully extensive, the kind of wine list you could read like a book and would take another visit or two to acquaint yourself with. The iPad menu allows you to click on any of the bottles or glasses you’re interested in to find out more about them. Which is terrific, but if you’re old school and would like the opinion of your tried and true server, don’t be alarmed. Our server was still extraordinarily knowledgable of the wine list and was more than happy to offer pairing suggestions. The lengthy selection of wines by the bottle features local varietals from up and down the West Coast, from Napa, Los Olivos, Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Walla Walla, you name it. There’s also dozens of bottles from France, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere. This wine list is a wine lovers dream. You’ll want to take it home to study.

We had a lovely glass of Domaine Roger Neveu Cote des Embouffants, a Sancerre from France and a Casas del Bosque Gran Reserva, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Each paired excellent with our main courses.

The Hamachi Collar is made with Pibil, Tangerine, Crème Fraîche, Fresno Chile, and served with tortillas. It’s the sort of SoCal dish one might roll their eyes at if it wasn’t so damn good. Refreshing, spicy, and seemingly light as air.

Also on the menu is an 18 ounce Ribeye (yes, 18 ounces. Certainly for 2, or 3? or 4?) served with seasonal greens and a house-made chimmichuri. Plus a Uni Carbonara with tagliatelle pasta, smoked egg yolk, chorizo, and San Joaquin Gold that had our neighbors on either side of us raving. Literally raving. It was then I noticed the chef, the server, and the hostess all were on a first name basis with their guests. They were regulars. And as each guest was leaving (we closed the place) all of them said, “We’ll see you on Wednesday.” Wednesday, we later learned, is the Stolpman Wine Dinner. Crossings does bi-monthly winemaker dinners. On Wednesday, March 14th they’ll play host to Stopleman Vineyards, with special guest Peter Stolpman. The winemaker dinners exemplify everything that Crossings is about: a relaxed vibe, good company, great food, and excellent wine. Chef Kevin Malone brought a bit of Los Olivos back to South Pasadena with him.

Crossings is a wonderful addition to the east side food scene. It’s always been a favorite for those in surrounding neighborhoods of South Pas – Pasadena, Glendale Eagle Rock, and Highland Park. But with the addition of Chef Kevin Malone at the helm, Crossings is about to take Los Angeles by storm.

Crossings also does a Sunday brunch, which is best done on their shaded and verdant outdoor patio. Oh, and pro-tip: ask Chef about their secret vegan menu. Hope to see you there some Sunday soon! Cheers!

Crossings is located at 1010 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030.

M-Th & Sun 5:30-9:30 PM
Fr-Sat 5:30-10 PM
Sun Brunch 10 AM- 1:30 PM

View their menu here and their incredible wine list here.

All photos courtesy Crossings Restaurant.

Follow Crossings on Instagram.

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