On a quaint stretch of Holly Street between Raymond and Fair Oaks avenues in Pasadena, a generic over-hanging sign still reads Sangers & Joe, the name of the short-lived Aussie cafe where a new seafood restaurant now stands.
Divert your eyes to the sidewalk, and a chalkboard reads "Lost at Sea." This casual board is maybe better suited than the hanging sign for the latest venture from owner Santos Uy (Mignon, Papilles, and co-founder of RiceBar and Cento Pasta Bar) and executive chef Tim Carey (Papilles).
Inside of the 45-seat (not including a forthcoming 16-seat patio) eatery, an eclectic array of nautical-inspired table options await. A large white communal table in the middle of the room is a likely destination for a party of two, since many of the private tables are for larger groups. But everyone seated there seems happy and open to fellowship with their neighbor Pasadenans.
Everything about Lost at Sea screams “neighborhood spot.” The laid-back design, communal table, casual service, small but stand-out beer and wine list and reasonable prices makes you wish it were on your block.
But skim chef Carey’s menu, and something a little more destination-worthy appears. A lifelong fisherman, he's decorated the restaurant with photos of his family fishing. His enthusiasm for seafood becomes obvious in dishes like snapper with shelling and wax beans, shimeji mushrooms and tarragon fumet.
An avocado salad is big enough to share, piled high with perfectly dressed leaves of spinach, shaved radish, ripe tomatoes, corn and pistachios. Crudités of market vegetables come vertically planted into a bed of smokey albacore tonnato. Main courses like bright pink sockeye salmon with panzanella croutons, tomato and basil pesto are, in line with the restaurant’s vibe, homey and straightforward.
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There is no cocktail program at Lost at Sea, but sip a very dry German rosé or an Austrian gruner veltliner and you won't even notice. The small but well curated wine list is a collection of unique international varietals. The beer list is tiny but includes $5 cans of Mama's Little Yella Pils.
Ask the server about the sweet corn velouté, partly because you think it sounds delicious and partly because you want to hear the silky words out loud.
“It’s cold soup.” He replies. The velouté, literally silky in French, is just that. This one comes beautifully plated with chanterelles, charred corn and sea grapes. Though technically referred to as a sauce, in this case, it is served cold, as a soup. But like most everything at Lost at Sea, that description seems understated.
57 E. Holly St., Pasadena; (323) 553-0563, lostatseapas.com.