The Athenaeum is a well-kept secret amongst alumni and friends of the California Institute of Technology. Membership is open to individuals associated with the teaching, research, or administrative staffs at Caltech, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, and the Palomar Observatory.
As early as 1921, George Ellery Hale, renowned astronomer, Caltech trustee, and director of the Mount Wilson Observatory, envisioned an Athenaeum in Pasadena modeled after the club in London. Hale had already spurred intellectual life in the region by bringing former MIT President Arthur A. Noyes and physicist Robert A. Millikan to Caltech. Together this trio positioned the California Institute of Technology as a world-class center for teaching and research in engineering and science. During the 1920s, cultural life also blossomed around two other centers of scholarship in Southern California–the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Huntington Library and Art Gallery.
The first formal dinner was held in February 1931, when Albert Einstein arrived for a two-month sojourn at Caltech. Three Nobel Prize winners, Albert Einstein, Robert A. Millikan, and A. A. Michelson, attended that dinner. Portraits of Hale, Noyes, Millikan, the Balches, and Caltech’s past presidents hang in various rooms throughout The Athenaeum.
The Athenaeum’s dining facilities are open Monday through Friday,
except Institute holidays.
For reservations, call (626) 395-8282
The Main Dining Room, the Hall of the Associates, and in good weather, the East and West Patios offer gracious settings for weekday dining. The Athenaeum boasts a varied and excellent menu as well as an extensive wine cellar. Appropriate dining attire is requested. Hours of service are Monday through Friday:
Fresh Pea and Wild Sonoran Shrimp Risotto
pancetta, lemon, leeks, and crispy shallots
fresh lobster meat, tarragon, whipped crème fraîche
celery root apple salad, apricot chutney, rhubarb, cherry walnut vinaigrette
marinated marble potatoes, cornichon, arugula, truffle vinaigrette
Athenaeum Caesar Salad
with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, marinated anchovies and croutons
Yes We Have a Green Salad
pickled cauliflower, olives, haricot vert, tomatoes, green goddess dressing
Spring Goat Cheese Salad
baby beets, kumquat, dates, candied pecans, radiccio, radishes
arugula, lemon vincotto
Duck Confit Salad
red wine poached pear, dried cherries, endive, salad greens, lotus root,
brie toast, plum dressing
Roast Alaskan Halibut
artichokes barigoule, lemon risotto, fava beans
Pan Roasted Loch Duart Salmon
asparagus, king mushrooms, spinach, almonds, curried carrot broth
Balsamic and Fig Glazed Jidori Chicken
mushroom potato galette, nettles, olive chicken jus
Green Olive Crusted Duck Breast
poached tangerines, foie gras, bleu cheese potatoes, blackberry gastrique
Stuffed Veal Breast
fennel sausage, parmesan, herbs, olive oil mashed potatoes, asparagus
Grilled Moroccan Lamb T-Bones
marinated with orange, cumin, garlic, coriander and olive oil
served with ratatouille, crisp hummus and tahini lamb sauce
Grilled Bone In Filet Mignon
crispy potato sticks, Roquefort creamed spinach, morel mushroom flan
Spring Vegetables with Parmesan Polenta
pea shoots, mascarpone, marinated heirloom tomato confit
seared sesame ahi with lemon risotto, Dungeness crabcake
and spring vegetable salad, colossal prawn with a polenta cake and arugula
7:00 am to 9:00 am
11:30 am to 1:30 pm
5:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Breakfast reservations are not required for parties of eight or less.
Lunch and dinner reservations are strongly recommended.
Private Dining Rooms
Several attractive private dining rooms are available for meetings or special functions. These include the Library (capacity 30), the East and West Private Dining Rooms (capacity 40), and the Card Room (capacity 30). The Private Events Office will take your reservations and assist with all phases of your planning. Please call (626) 395-8264 for more information.
Located on the lower level of the Athenaeum, the Rathskeller Bar and Game Room offer a casual setting for impromptu gatherings. Reservations are not necessary for parties of eight or less. The Rathskeller offers full bar service and is a pleasant place to relax and enjoy a cocktail at the end of the day. A special bar menu is available Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. On Thursday, a special all you can eat buffet is available from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Join us on the Olive Terrace for our Rath al Fresco for summer evening dining from mid May through September.
The Rathskeller bar is open Monday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and Fridays from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Beverages served in the Rathskeller may not be taken to any other area of the Athenaeum. The Rathskeller is available for private parties.
Located in the southwest corner of the main floor, the Hayman Lounge is a gift from alumnus Richard Hayman. Surrounded by photographs of Caltech Nobel Laureates and other noted Caltech scientists, members and their guests can enjoy this intimate setting for cocktails, a glass of fine wine, or specialty coffees before or after dinner. The Hayman Lounge is open Monday through Friday, 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
To the right of the main entrance is the Main Lounge, a large paneled lounge with comfortable seating and a massive fireplace. Members and guests are invited to take a moment to sit and enjoy the ambience. The Lounge is available for private parties. Make reservations through the Private Events Office, (626) 395-8264.