Everybody Dines But Not Everybody Lives. The Kings Row Sunday Brunch. Kings Row Gastropub. Pasadena, CA.
Check your diet at the door!
A hip hop shaman once said that Everybody dies but not everybody lives. True that. The same can be said for eating. You can go through life depriving yourself of all carbs and fats just so you look better naked or keep the triglycerides in check but, hey, nobody lives 4ever. If you're going to eat, enjoy it.
That said, you don't come to Kings Row Gastropub after making a New Year's resolution to lose a few holiday pounds. You don't come here to experience a tasting menu of small fussy bites of molecular munchies. You definitely don't come to this Pasadena restaurant on a Sunday to have brunch with Vivaldi's The Four Seasons: Spring lilting in the background and your pinky raised while sipping Earl Grey.
You come to Kings Row to eat like Henry VIII. But, if you're going to eat like a king, you've got to make those excess calories count. In other words, those extra carbs and fat better be worth it.
Now if you're hankering a gooey Queso Fundido that smothers spicy bits of chorizo, potatoes and poblano peppers crowned with a fried egg, or the Chicken & Waffles made with massive chicken tenders coated in southern fried batter and paired with buckwheat waffles, or, maybe, the Open Range Meatloaf concentrated with minced veal and boar banded together by a strip of smoky bacon, then you've come to the right place.
It's Sunday. Bloody Sunday. Why not order a Jug O Blood (Kings Row's version of a Bloody Mary mixed with Tito's Vodka served in a mason jar) and put in a request for the band to play some Skynyrd? Bask in the chilly chill patio on a warm afternoon. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow is Monday. Crappy Monday.
Kings Row Gastropub is nowhere near Texas but they're starting to build a rep for doing everything big, real big. I'm not just talking large portions, I'm saying huge food. Take their Pullman French Toast, for example. Technically, it's not French toast because it's about the size of an MMA fighter's fist — a French loaf would be more accurate.
It'll toast your French toast.
The Duck Confit Hash packs in a lot of flavor, as any scramble should. The great thing is the flavors are not muddled even if the ingredients are intimately co-mingled: the shreds of duck confit come through with distinct duck flavor, the maple bourbon sauce is nearly intoxicating and the pieces of applewood bacon give the dish that final breakfast touch. The Duck Fat Hash Browns underneath it all ain't too shabby either.
No lame duck (w/ fried duck egg upgrade).
Yes, good ol' Chicken & Waffles. A kinky combo that pleases the crowd every time. It's no different with Kings Row's take on the classic Southern plate. Using large pieces of boneless breast meat and fried in a peppy, crispy yet flaky batter, there's quite a bit of meat to go with the buckwheat waffle. Douse the duo with maple syrup for a meal that speaks to your soul. But if your conscience starts speaking louder, have a few bites of the kale to shut it up.
The Delicious Duo ― Chicken & Waffles.
What do you get when you grind up veal and boar meat, bake it with a strip of bacon and then plop it on a piece of toast and a pile of buttery mashed potatoes? Crazy delicious meatloaf called Open Range Meatloaf, that's what. This is the meat lover's plate. It's dense with 3 kinds of animal flesh and layers of flavor. You don't need to bother with the bread, but the rest of it (like the fried onion strings) makes it a savory symphony.
This ain't a meatloaf, it's a meats-loaf.
This journey to my premature coronary concludes with my favorite breakfast item, Chicken Fried Steak. The one at Kings Row is probably one of the best I've eaten and I've eaten quite a few. It's not overwhelming in size. The flavor and texture, though, are exceptional. With the first bite into the delicately crispy batter and you'll taste the unmistakable essence of truly delicious fried chicken. Underneath the flaky, fried sheath is a tenderized slab of country short rib, flavorful, soulful and the perfect food for a lazy Sunday. Smear on some of the rich peppered gravy to make it pop. By habit, I usually dash on a few drops of Tabasco. This one doesn't need it. Not that it's spicy, it's just very flavorful.
The pair of big, bloated sausages that accompany the chicken fried steak are remarkably well-seasoned, so much so that they taste like pork when they're in fact made of turkey. Finely ground, flavored with maple syrup and in a snappy casing, it's a breakfast sausage that will not disappoint. Getting an extra side of them for the table would be a good idea.
Chicken Fried Fantasy.
I've never been into the mimosa and omelette station scene, so Sunday brunch was never my thing. The Kings Row Sunday brunch, however, is my kind of Sunday brunch. With hefty and high quality food at great prices (about $13 per plate) and an inviting ambiance that says "stay awhile" (easy to do with the $12 endless mimosa), this gastropub has its heart in the right place. The joy, fun and creativity put into the decor (the trolley scrolls and vintage classroom chairs), beverages (Jug O Blood), music (a rollicking bluegrass/rockabilly band) and, of course, good food make Kings Row a restaurant worth visiting over and over again, especially if you live near Pasadena. Its delicious new Sunday brunch service is further confirmation that the proof, indeed, is in the Yorkshire pudding, which also happens to be on the menu.
Kings Row Gastropub
20 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105