Chef Laurent Quenioux is a busy man, now running the kitchens of two restaurants: his namesake Bistro LQ in West Hollywood (which made it onto J. Gold's 99 Essential Restaurants for the second year in row) and, as of late November, Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena.

Why did he do it? Was he just not busy enough? “It was a couple of things,” Quenioux told us. “I have so many ties in the San Gabriel Valley, because I have being there so long, but it is very difficult for many of our customers to come down here [to 3rd Street]. This was an opportunity to cater to them, so they didn't have to drive all the way down here.”

The two restaurants are different in nature. “Bistro LQ is more gastronomy and Vertical is more conservative,” says Quenioux. “We did not want to change charisma and reputation of Vertical.”

The Pasadena resident has already made changes to the menu of the “swankest wine bar in Old Town Pasadena.” As of last Sunday, Vertical began serving cassoulets and will continue offering them every Sunday through the end of February. Also, the restaurant now features large and small plates including a corn fritter with smoked salmon and crème fraîche; mussels with chorizo, saffron and coriander; and farro risotto with trumpet mushrooms; duck two ways: confit leg and seared breast with pomegranate glaze, yuzu curd, shishito purée and miso jus.

To please his longtime fans, the menu at Vertical includes staples like scallops with hummus and marinated artichoke hearts, poached salmon in olive oil and uni pudding.

Helping Quenioux behind the stoves at Vertical is his long-time sous chef Daniel Vasquez.

LA Weekly