A perfectly tolerable, if slightly expensive, Wine Bar/Bistro in Old Town Pasadena.
Oh, what to do with the cool and the hip. They need places to eat. They need places to drink. More importantly, they need places to be seen eating and drinking. And thus, Vertical Wine Bistro is born to serve your needs.
I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of about Vertical for the last couple of years. Friends of mine have talked me out of going, but now was the time. I had to see for myself. It’s reputation, at least given to me by friends is that it was a good wine bar, with okay-to-decent food, and one of the founding partners was Gale Anne Hurd, Producer, and on list of James Cameron’s ex wives. But I’d also heard it was overpriced for what it was.
For what “it” was. What is “it” I wondered.
Well, hell. Just cause you said that way, there’s no way I’m not going now.
First time trying to go through those doors, way unsuccessful. It was packed to the gills. I turned around and wound up going to Osek instead. Second time, I timed it perfectly…perfect for what I wanted to do. As they opened for the day, I walked in. Granted, there wasn’t much of a crowd when I was there, but who cares. I wanted a nice little lunch, and a nice little bit of wine.
And I got that…for the most part.
Was it decent? Of course. It was more than decent.
Was it overpriced?
That I couldn’t tell you. I liked what I had and didn’t feel generally ripped off, so…there’s that.
I think your time at Vertical is going to be dictated by what kind of wine you get, and how well you respond to it. Wine’s bot entirely my thing. I drink it…though not to excess. I enjoy it…though not to excess. I can kinda pick out the individual tastes and flavors in it. But do I know vintages? Can I rattle off Labels like I can rattle off of the names of Washington’s Starting Defense front seven? There are times I can barely sneak past “Mongo think wine good”.
And, damn if I couldn’t shake the “Sports bar in fancier clothes” vibe. I don’t know. Vertical is a very nice place. It’s a very comfortable place. I liked my time there, and what I liked had there.
Still, I can’t shake this feeling that I don’t need to go there again.
I mean, seriously. Is there something more inspiring about what they pour here as opposed to the same bottle they pour over at Bottlerock or any other Wine place on the planet? No. What matters in a place like this is the conversation you have with your pourer, what kind of an education you get from that bottle (and whether you’d like to have it again). And what kind of food you had, while enjoying that bottle.
No conversation. No education. No memorable, must have it again NOW, level of food.
So…ummm, no. There’s nothing pulling me back. Vertical Wine Bistro was…okay, he said with a shrug.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: It was Happy Hour. I didn’t go too sophisticated or anything. I went with their Chef’s Assortment of Charcuterie, which was very nice, very tasty. A nice peppery selection of meats couple that put me in a good place. I also picked up the Sliders. You get one of each: Gruyere, Cheddar, and Morbiér. Being the sucker for Gruyere that I am, that one stood out the most, but…truth be told they all kinda blended in. Good and tasty Sliders, just nothing memorable. Your experience may vary.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing much to worry about here. As I said, folks have told me that this place is alright, but not worth the price. I’ll leave that to you to judge. The restaurant itself is located on the second floor of the building it’s on, so, once you pass underneath the Vertical Sign, you have to take the stairs or the Elevator on up. Remember, odds are, it will be crowded.
PARKING: Ehhh…good luck. You’re going to be heavily depended on nearby Garages, and they can charge pretty much what they want in that part of Old Town. If I were you, I’d park at the Schoolhouse and get some exercise walking the two and half blocks to Vertical. Still, consult our Old Town Parking Guide for locations.
Vertical Wine Bistro
70 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103
Tel: (626) 795-3999
Tuesday-Thursday: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 4:00 pm – 1:00 am
Sunday: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm