Sideways at Vertical
Vertical is probably the swankest wine bar in Old Town Pasadena, a high-design joint jutting from a hidden courtyard on Raymond’s restaurant row, all subdued lighting and gleaming surfaces and hidden corners, with sleek DJ music and bottles spilling out of the sorts of niches that have never seen bottles before. You will never, never feel out of place in an LBD or a pinstriped Thom Browne suit here, or lack for well-heeled admirers. But Vertical is more ambitious than that: It aspires to be nothing less than the Pasadena equivalent of A.O.C., with zillions of wines available by the taste, the glass, the bottle and the flight — three side-by-side Williams Selyem pinot noirs, for example, or New Zealand sauvignon blancs, or Argentine malbecs. Sara Levine, who opened the foodie-beloved Opus, is the chef here, and beyond the wine, Vertical is a showcase of artisanal cheeses and cured meats, house-made terrines and clever fritters, Serrano-ham-wrapped fig poppers and meaty, grape-friendly small dishes like pulled pork with prunes and polenta, spicy lamb sausages in a barbecue sauce flavored with Moroccan-style harissa, and duck confit with chestnuts. If you would rather look into the depths of a Barolo-braised brisket than into the eyes of an attractive stranger, at Vertical it can always be arranged. 70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 795-3999.
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