Nov 2008

Marston’s – Pasadena

It’s officially been a while since I’ve had a brilliant brunch experience. Heck, I haven’t had a swoon-worthy breakfast-lunch hybrid since my days in Philly, and that was years ago! If you’re lucky enough to be living in the area, I highly recommend Bridget Foy’s on South Street, Sabrina’s Cafe near the Italian Market, and Lacroix at the Rittenhouse. In addition to brunch, water ice and cheese steaks are other Philly notables.

My latest brunch disappointment was at Marston’s in Pasadena. The Astronomer and I met up with fellow Helix High School alum Stephanie and her BF for brunch here on a recent lazy Sunday. The Yelptards (as The Gourmet Pig would say) rated the place especially high and the Pasadena Weekly voted it Best Breakfast, so I was expecting a pretty good show.

As is the current trend with popular breakfast joints, no reservations were accepted and the wait was substantial.


After a half hour, we were seated in the crowded, but quaint cottage. I ordered the Fantastic French Toast ($8.95), which consisted of two thick sourdough slices dipped in egg batter and rolled in corn flakes. They were grilled and served with hot syrup and soft butter. The French toast was texturally intriguing, but the bread’s sour notes were a bit strange, especially with the sweet maple syrup. A couple of berries or slices of fresh fruit could have improved the composition of flavors.

The Astronomer’s blueberry pancakes ($7.95) arrived at the table burnt. Even though The Astronomer didn’t want to make a fuss, I had to step up to the plate and ask the waitress to re-do the order. The second plate was aesthetically a vast improvement, but thoroughly unamazing overall; the blueberries were skimpy and the pancakes lacked any fluff.

For me, brunch should be a decadent meal comprised of flavors and textures that are difficult to achieve in the home kitchen. Both the French toast and pancakes fell flat, literally and figuratively.

Since this post was one big wah wah, here’s a Georgia O’Keefe moment for everyone to enjoy.

Marston’s Restaurant
151 E. Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 796-2459

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9 thoughts on “Marston’s – Pasadena

  1. Don’t forget Sam’s Morning Glory in Philly! Way better than Sabrina’s, as far as I’m concerned. Although that Lacroix brunch looks pretty spectacular.

  2. Mr. Gourmet Pig – I read a lot of positive press for Morning Glory back in the day, but never got a chance to sample the offerings. Sam > Sabrina? We’ll see about that one 😉

  3. hehe yelptards… i hate having to send food back! the last time I sent pancakes back, they returned a new plate of just as flat pancakes. nothing worse eh?

  4. Marston’s got its reputation because for a long time all the muckety-mucks in City Hall ate breakfast there. So people liked that you could sit cheek-by-jowl with the City Council. Anyway, it was a “power breakfast” place then.

    I ate there several times when we first lived in Pasadena (1998-2005), and it was *never* impressive. Not for brunch, not for lunch. And the wait (not to mention the parking!) was a pain.

    So I find your review spot-on. Better breakfast can be had at Pie-n-Burger, IMO.

  5. Fiona – Thanks for the explanation! Pasadena residents need to re-set their taste buds because Marston’s is surely not the best. I am muy excited to check out Pie n Burger. Is it wrong to eat a burger and a slice of pie for breakfast? I hope not!

  6. Dude! Never, ever is it wrong to eat pie for breakfast. In fact, I have an article from Gourmet from the 50s that says it’s practically required if you live in Maine.

    The best thing at Pie-n-Burger, of course, is to have a burger and then pie. But breakfast ain’t bad.

    My suggestion on that is: in the spring, see when PnB is having Ollalieberry pie. It’s a berry from Oregon that’s like blackberry meets mulberry. So delicious, and I’ve never had it anywhere else (although, to be fair, I don’t go to Oregon much).

  7. Fiona – If it’s Gourmet approved, then it must be the right thing to do 😉 I will make a note on my ever-growing ‘things to eat’ list about the Ollaieberry pie. Thanks for the tip, and I’ll report back on PnB in the near future.

  8. I agree. I don’t understand why Marstons gets such high ratings. They do have some tasty popovers at lunch though. My brunch favorites are Julienne (creme brulee french toast) and Firefly (tortilla flats french toast) in South Pas. On a side note, have you checked out Taco Station on Green by Holliston yet? Surprisingly creative taco menu, homemade tortillas. I gave it an A Saturday, going with my lab for lunch tomorrow.

  9. Was rifling through your archives and came across this gem. I ate here about a year or so ago and had a hauntingly similar experience. Such an overrated establishment.

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