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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Patio Is the Draw Where Magpies Roosts in Pasadena

June 23, 1995|S. IRENE VIRBILA

A new restaurant has moved into the Old Pasadena space that most recently housed Columbia Bar & Grill. Now tear-drop shaped crystals hang from lights strung between the trees on the patio. Chandeliers dangle bright bits of glass. And the waiters' station resembles a bird cage. Quick, what is the theme here? Magpies.

On a balmy evening everyone has abandoned the striped booths and banquettes covered in '40s print inside for the lovely patio complete with gurgling fountain. (Or birdbath?)

No one at Magpies seems to be exactly eating like a bird. All around us, diners are digging into their plates with relish. Portions are, shall we say, on the hefty side: Mahogany barbecued chicken with glossy baked beans, thick slabs of meatloaf with mounds of mashed potatoes, tall burgers topped with applewood-smoked bacon and smoked mozzarella.

Tender baby back ribs are glazed with sweet barbecue sauce. There's a decent Yankee pot roast, a chicken pot pie. And, to cover all the bases, a few pizzas and pasta dishes, too.

Magpies' basic fare is not about to shake up Old Pasadena's dining scene anytime soon. But all summer long the idea of dining outdoors on that patio is going to be the real draw.

* Magpies Restaurant, 42 S. Pasadena Ave., Pasadena, (818) 568-9992. Open daily for lunch and dinner. All major credit cards. Valet parking. Appetizers $3.95-$8.95, entrees $9.95-$16.50.

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