Friday, January 30, 2009

School Lunch

I went downtown earlier this week to take photos of the old growth trees. Those you see here may or may not be coming out soon, to be replaced by palms and/or gingkos.

I caught these guys heading south from Colorado Blvd. on Madison. Since they're wearing those crisp white chef hats and jackets and heading for Bistro 561, I've leapt to the conclusion that they're students at the California School of Culinary Arts. They must have been on their lunch hour. On a student's budget, who can eat at 561 every day?

Having entered neither establishment, I can't speak with authority about the Bistro or the School. Can you?

24 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

I've been to the School Cafe, the casual restaurant. All I can remember is the house coffee each time tasting day-old to me. I guess they don't train barristas at a culinary school.

2nd, the prices are reasonable. The carrot cake was good. The Caesar Chicken Salad was average at best.

An abundance of students crawling around the place - it's a teaching restaurant afterall. Don't visit expecting to work or have a quiet conversation.

I will make return visits. But, that's all I remember at this time.

Laurie said...

Why are the old growth trees coming out? Aren't they protected?

Love this image, Petrea.

lynn said...

Oh what a shame they're coming out. Why? They've seen so much...

Petrea said...

C.O., from your description it sounds like eating at the School Cafe is analogous to getting a haircut at a beauty college. I take it the School Cafe is not the same as 561?

Re: the trees, Laurie and Lynn: I had a couple of emails from blog readers so I checked it out. From what I gather, the issue has been before the City Council for about 12 years. There are two sides: a) old growth trees provide beauty and shade. b) their roots tear up sidewalks, sewers and plumbing, causing expense for businesses already under financial stress.

The issue has been decided for some time, but last-minute efforts to rethink it are underway.

HearkenCreative said...

I'll speak to the school café and the trees:

The Culinary School Café is good only at the end of term, when everyone inside knows what they are doing. I've had some truly awesome dishes there, and some truly horrible meals too...

Vromans and the other businesses around the Playhouse wanted those trees out because 1) they block their store signage and 2) camphor tree roots tend to destroy anything in their path: sidewalks, sewer lines, etc. So the trees are being removed, and replacements (with better roots and fewer offensive leaves) are replacing them.

I dunno, sometimes I think humans can be just as destructive as camphor trees, and definitely not as beautiful to a neighborhood. Should we start removing humans, too? (Sorry, it's just that, for a town who values their trees so much, it seems shameful to be pulling them out.)

The city assures us that more trees will be going in than coming out of Colorado Blvd., but when half the trees that they are planting are palms (which have no shade canopy at all), I cry foul.

altadenahiker said...

Let's talk to Anne. That kind of destruction is criminal and infuriating.

Vanda said...

Those old trees are beautiful, it would be a crime to cut them down. Palm trees are useless. I don't mind them if they are already there, but there is no reason to plant more.

Daisy said...

The trees in this photo are safe, thank goodness, but all the older trees along Colorado Boulevard and the side streets between Los Robles and Lake will be cut down within the next few weeks, unless we protest. We'll lose all the big green lollipop trees (the ficus) and the carrotwoods because the business owners don't like them. All the trees due to be cut down have been "posted" with a small white notice on the side furthest away from the sidewalk, so you only see it from the road. The plan is to replant with spindly palms and gingkos, as in Old Town. Have you ever tried to shop there in the heat of a summer's day? This plan was hatched in the mid 90s, before the importance of mature shade trees was recognized. I'll be especially sorry to see the big tree outside the Laemmle movie theater cut down. To get this misguided decision reversed, phone or email Bill Bogaard, our sympathetic mayor, and/or your council representative (only Sid Tyler voted against the decision) as soon as possible, and come to the Pasadena city council meeting on Monday evening (Feb 2) to show your support.

Trish said...

can't speak to the restaurants---but I suspect the truth is that nearing the end of the term, the food WOULD be better. One hopes. I've heard 561 is good...but, never been.

The tree issue---I always cry foul when someone wants to tear out *anything* and put a palm in its place. Palms do not provide shade, lest you are a long, tall stick and stand VERY still. The fronds do a lot of damage coming down and they do need maintenance, despite being labeled "low/no maint" trees. What's worse is the damage they do to the root, sewer and water systems are the same problems with the trees that get removed, just at a slower, but more damaging rate. However, most people seeing this won't be affected much---by the time the city notices, most of us will be retired or to greener pastures.

Ginkos are an interesting replacement. I have a soft spot for them, having lived with them in the Altos in SoPas. The yellow carpet is beautiful. The pods and leaves in the winter are downright dangerous to walk on---so am not sure why the city would want to install something obviously dangerous---unless they plan on also paying crews to come out often to clean up.

I am quite sure that almost any other big city in CA can give reference to the problems of installing palms---if anyone in Pasadena would just look or ask.

Has anyone talked to an arborist, or heck, ask anyone at Bellefontaine to give an opinion?

I keep hearing a song run through my head---"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot".

Stepping off my soapbox for now...

Sarah said...

Bistro 561 is a *wonderful* culinary adventure. Highly recommended if you like eating interesting food that the people serving you are truly proud of. Never been to the cafe.

Cafe Observer said...

The 561 Restaurant next door, conncected by a hallway, is the "fine dining" teaching restaurant of the the culinary college. It looks quieter.

But, never been to it. Something about dogs & fine dining aren't supposed to mix.

HearkenCreative said...

Okay, my note to my City Council rep is already written and e-mailed on the trees issue.

I re-read my previous comment, and really don't want to come down too hard on the Café. It's reasonably-priced, and can be a fun place to meet somebody for lunch (which I have several times). It's just that the quality fluctuates because the kitchen staff is in training and constantly changing. But they still do a wonderful job, and I'm glad they're here. Haven't been to the Bistro yet...

Antjas said...

You were wondering how those guys could afford an affordable restaurant? If you look closely at the picture, the guy on the right appears to have been "brown bagging" it.

Pascal Jim said...

What is strange, the fact those leafy trees, scheduled for the wood pile, replaced the many palm trees that lined Colorado some years ago....

Margaret said...

Wow. This didn't turn out to be what I expected. When I read school lunch I immediately flashed back to 1976: salisbury steak, chicken fried steak, hard shell tacos at Ventura Elementary school in Palo Alto, California. You think these guys might be cooking a little more upscale?

Christie said...

I love trees. These look beautiful! I do understand the hazards of sidewalks moving though. Someone trips and then the city gets sued. Cheaper to replace trees then pay for lawsuits and lawyers.

When we moved into our old house, there was one tree. We planted about 15-20 trees on our 1/2 acre lot and we moved before we got to see how they really grew. We drove by there last year and they were gorgeous! Providing shade and privacy to the house and yard, and in the spring, I'll have to go back and see the lilac hedge. That may be what I miss the most.

Petrea said...

I love gingkos. The ones at the Huntington are magnificent.

This issue has apparently been under public discussion for years. I must not be paying attention because I just heard about it a few days ago. I assume these things are matters of public record, but where? Do I have to go to City Council meetings or read the Star-News every day? What are the other outlets?

I see both sides of this one.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Docker.

Cafe Observer said...

Yeah, P, you have to pay close attention to what these pols are trying 2 do 2 us, from our loco's down to the Prez.

Thus, last nite - I mean week - I was attending the Mayor's State of Pasadena gathering, et al. Me with a brunch of bureacrats, pols, and other "dignitaries." Can you believe me in that picture?!

Kim said...

Beautiful trunks on those mature trees. Ginkos are nice, but I didn't know they would do well in your area. I wonder what palm they might pick. Fun to see the chefs wandering ahead!
-Kim
Seattle Daily Photo

Bernie K. said...

Only in Pasadena would gangs of sauciers rove the streets.

Bernie K. said...

Only way to corner them would be to set up a cordon bleu …

(Sorry—delayed punchline syndrome)

USelaine said...

Just a note on the ginkos - only the female plants produce seed pods, so they always use males for municipal plantings. Read the Wikipedia article for more fun facts (like how extremely ancient they are!). Not to say I'm endorsing one course of action over another - just appreciating the species under consideration. I also like palm trees and camphor trees. Magnolias are marvelous, lindens are likable, always savor the sycamores, honor the oaks.

Petrea said...

Gingkos do very well here, Kim. See Elaine's comment - she's knows more about them than I do. It may be a particular variety. All the trees she mentions can thrive in soCal.

Bernie, that's a winner. Made me laugh out loud.