Last month with vaccines on the increase, COVID-19 restrictions loosening up, and the fact that Louie and I had been fully vaccinated since February, it was time to embark on our first dinner date in over a year. We love dining out, but by staying safer at home, buying take out and cooking up great meals, we got through the year unscathed.
We had heard about Saso, the new restaurant at the historic Pasadena Playhouse. I got excited when I saw its Basque-inspired menu online -- a chance to connect with my Spanish-Basque roots! And its outdoor dining in the courtyard of the Playhouse’s Spanish Colonial Revival setting couldn’t be more romantic. The courtyard, shared with the Playhouse, is usually the gathering place for theater goers before the doors open.
Historically, the Playhouse first opened in 1924 as a nationally renowned school for theater arts. George Bernard Shaw called it the Athens of the West, in the spirit of the Festival Dionysia in ancient Athens. The short list of alumni greats includes, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Sally Struthers, Ariana Grande, Charles Bronson, Sandra Tsing Loh, and Leonard Nimoy. A memory we will cherish forever was seeing Michael Jackson and his entourage arrive at the Playhouse when we attended his sold-out musical, Sisterella, in 1996 (in the dark of the theater, he took his balcony seat three rows in front of us).
With a dinner setting like this, how could we not feel transported? Our server Theo (he’s Greek) enthusiastically guided us through beautiful courses: oysters on the half-shell that we ate ravenously, salad of the freshest greens and -- grilled with the legendary charcoal Josper oven created in Barcelona -- Whole Fish Basquaise, Alaskan Mussels, and divine Baby Artichokes with garlic aioli. The closing act was dessert of lusciously light Basque Cheesecake with Matcha.
The next time we dine at Saso, I will ask for our same table for two. The one with the backdrop of the ticket window.
What a blessing that we’re coming full circle.
This is your country, and it’s up to you to save it.” – English translation of a saying in Taiwan
Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives