Comfort food is making a comeback in the new year as restaurateurs rush to fill a yearning for old-fashioned, home-style American food. Just in time, the owners of Parkway Grill, Crocodile Cafe and Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena have retooled the restaurant they owned at 110 S. Lake Ave. The high-end Asian fusion concept called Ducz never really took flight, so in December, the Smith brothers redecorated and opened as Smitty's Grill. And already, it seems to be a go.
On a weekday night, the bar is thronged, cheerful under the Christmas lights. The bartender keeps a constant flow of martinis, Cosmopolitans and Old Fashioneds coming, and the cooks, seen through the kitchen window, are jamming. The noise level is raucous. By some peculiar trick of acoustics, I can hear the conversations in either booth to the side of ours perfectly but have trouble catching the ends of sentences at our table.
Smitty's menu is a no-brainer: shrimp cocktail, Caesar and Cobb salads, steak chili, steaks and ribs, and for dessert, Fosselman's ice cream.
Corn bread comes in a blackened iron skillet, in the sweet Southern style. The appetizer-sized barbecued pork ribs take the edge off your appetite, but if you really want to go retro, there's bean and cheddar dip and even garlic cheese bread. But no Swedish meatballs, which date more or less from the same era.