*This article was originally published in Pasadena Magazine.
Eagle Rock partisans have long yearned for a place like Little Beast. Its ambiance, established by a reconverted 1911 bungalow with a homey patio on Colorado Boulevard, is unfussy and sets an ideal scene for catching up with a friend over a glass of a slightly obscure, yet affordable, white wine complemented by bites of wild salmon tartare. Or a romantic candlelight dinner ending with a mason jar full of chilled salty chocolate pudding. On a recent Tuesday night, every table at the small independent eatery was full, and the sound of convivial murmurs and clinking glasses was at full volume. Owner, chef and South Pasadena resident Sean Lowenthal, and his wife and partner, Deborah Schwartz-Lowenthal, knew the community was ready for their progressive American comfort food when the pop-up dinners they hosted down the street at Le Petit Beaujolais sold out, despite not doing any publicity. Lowenthal’s cooking chops, and his penchant for American modern cuisine, were honed during his two-year tenure working as Chateau Marmont’s sous chef. He’s split the menu into two sections: “Small Plates,” with fiercely seasonal things such as juicy, perfectly ripe peach slices served with a generous dollop of creamy burrata cheese, and “Mains,” entrees including plump seared scallops atop a bed of buttery roasted cauliflower puree. For beerheads and soda aficionados, there is an adequate assortment of craft beers on draft as well a couple of bottles of cool artisan pop. But it’s very much expected that most diners will take advantage of Little Beast’s uncommon wine list, a selection that may range from a $6 glass of tart, low-alcohol Vinho Verde to an intensely fruity glass of 2009 Sangiovese.