Thursday, April 9, 2009

Party crasher!

Mandated by Virbila's review in the LA Times ("Go."), I've been wanting to go to Rivera for a while (like two whole weeks!). We made reservations last week for like 9pm (only time available - damn you, glowing review!), but I wasn't feeling up to it, so we had to cancel. Mr. Insomniac got word that a college friend was staying in Pasadena on business, and they decided to meet somewhere halfway. Rivera was a perfect match!

I brought the new camera along because I was so ready to take pictures. But when we got to the restaurant and were seated in the middle of a quiet room with older people in suits, I sort of chickened out. Ever since I got admonished at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, I've sort of lost my SLR picture taking nerve.

I did a little with the iphone, but most of them came out crappy. You'll see.

I started with the tequila flight - blanco tequila mixed with seasonal aqua frescas. I got a grapefruit/anise, pomegranate, and Meyer lemon. They were good, although I could have done without the ice cubes in the glass. And I could have had a heartier pour. Those suckers were good! It was still pretty light in the dining room, so you get a halfway decent picture.


Mr. Insomniac got another drink. It was interesting (had a serrano pepper in it)... not sure I'd order it again.

We ordered a couple of the small plates, which were fantastic (although the photos of them are decidedly sub-par).

First up was the tortillas florales, housemade tortillas with "Indian butter". I'm happy to report that the Indian tasted like guacamole, and not in fact like the people of the Cherokee nation.


All joking aside, these were wonderful. I could have been content with a stack full of these and a pitcher of the meyer lemon tequila.

Next was the duck confit with a roja reduction. Melt in your mouth deliciousness.


Mr. Insomniac always gets mussels. These were good too - and I especially enjoyed the charred piece of bread that accompanied them - perfect for soaking up the sauces.


Now this is where the pictures get really crappy. For the entrees, I and Mr. Insomniac's friend ordered the banana leaf braised pork shoulder with Peruvian potatoes. I sampled all of the components, and then earmarked the rest of the dish for leftovers. The meat was amazingly tender and I'm salivating at the thought of running downstairs after I finish this post to eat the rest while watching out the premiere of Harper's Ferry on the DVR.


There was a bit of delay as the server slid a portion of Mr. Insomniac's friend's pork on the table cloth and the dish was sent back to the kitchen for re-plating. That minor incident aside, the service was excellent. The food came out a little slower than I would like, but by the time we got our entrees, the place was fully packed.

Mr. Insomniac got the pan-roasted chicken with citrus and wilted spinach. The spinach had a delightful chili flavor. I was inspired by the stencil on the plate. I have to try that sometime - "I slaved over this dish" in chili powder and assorted spices...


I believe it was around here that we noticed the attractive couple dining in the romantic banquette near us. It was the Monkeys! WeezerMonkey was celebrating her birthday and I dashed over to her table to give her a hug and wish her a happy birthday IRL. What fun! I knew that she'd get to Rivera eventually, but I didn't think that we'd be there at the same time...

Here's my sneak picture of the two - lol - celebrity stalking style. They look like they're dining in a black cave. The iphone camera sucks. Fortunately, WeezerMonkey was situated in a booth with an actual light above it and I saw her whipping out her camera to take some great shots. She is amazingly quick with that thing. Impressive.


So please refer to her post (insert place holder for link) for the pics and review. I believe we ordered a lot of the same things.

And then dessert. We got the mojito crepes with white rum, lime, and mint; the trio of flan with complementary sauces (peppermint, something, and something or other - Mr. Insomniac got this. I'm not a flan fan - but I did like the one that had the densest texture); and I got the hazelnut chocolate sponge cake with orange sorbet. I didn't bother taking any pictures, because Mr. Insomniac's friend had blown out our meager candle light source and we were sitting in darkness.

Did I mention that I was on day 4 of my "diet"? I lasted a bitter 3 days. So sad.

The dish that I'd order again would be the crepes. Mr. Insomniac's friend couldn't finish his order, so we descended upon it like half-starved hyenas. It was ugly. Mr. Insomniac's trio of flan was good, but a little small - each flan was the size of a marshmallow. My cake was good, but a little too chocolately for me. What I really wanted was some sort of beignet or donut - something churro-esque. I know a lot of restaurants do the beignet thing, and maybe it's played, but darn it, that's what I wanted.

So on the way home, when Mr. Insomniac directed me to pull into El Pollo Loco's for another order of flan, I made sure to tack on a side of churros onto the order. So yeah - after all that food, we ate more at El Pollo Loco. Diet has officially been busted.


WeezerMonkey said...

I still can't believe we ran into each other! Too funny and totally awesome!

My pics will be up tonight or tomorrow. :)

HaveShoesWillTravel said...

That looks delicious. My diet always goes straight to hell whenever I dine out as well. I actually went most of February and most of March without eating out and lost 10 lbs.

Ann Marie said...

How funny that the two of you ran into each other! Love the papparazi shot. :-)

WeezerMonkey said...

It's me again.

I just had to say that Mr. Monkey remarked, "I can't believe they went to El Pollo Loco after that and ate more!"

But then I reminded him he had two slices of Glam's homemade pie when he got home.

I think it's a draw.

A Feminist Gold Digger said...

That is the best picture of the monkeys I've ever seen! You are so stealth.

10yearstogether said...

I guess if you're going to bust a diet, this is the way to do it! Cool that you ran into the Monkeys, what a small world!

TonyC said...

chickening out w/ the SLR is simply not accepting. unless you get asked to leave. then you just come online to bitch about it on twitter.

we DEMANZ the pix.