Bistro Verdu Update
Went back to Verdu out of a sense of loyalty to the only attempt at an innovative restaurant in NE Glendale (OK, to be honest, in all of Glendale... and, for that matter, Burbank as well). They have lost their large space next door, at which we have enjoyed many fine evenings of tapas and wines - it will be a retail wine store soon. The wait staff has completely changed. And the chef/owner was out for the evening. I am sure he is usually there.
Tuesdays they have several nice bottles of wine, largely Spanish, but some California and French, for half price. Wednesdays they have a prix fixe menu ($28 for 3 courses), which basically translates into a free dessert.
Hama Hama oysters were really fresh, but drowned in a champagne mignonette right in the shell - not on the side. Very disappointing as I am one of those who loves fresh oysters without any "sauce". Roasted beet salad, which is one of their long term specialities did not disappoint. Lots of flavors (pear, pistachios, herbs, dressing) which amazingly blend into a coherent whole. Highly recommended.
Paella which was really an overcooked risotto with a generous piece of fish on top, a few clams, and the most wonderful andouille sausage. All in all a nice take on the classic, but not really what you'd get in a real Spanish restaurant. Chicken risotto had some nice, bold flavors, but was seemed to be the sous chef's imitation of the real thing. I must emphasize that the chef was not there.
Desserts were a little disappointing. Chocolate pot au creme was hot fudge sauce with a little chantilly cream on top. Too dense for even a chocoholic. Mille feuille had lots of whipped and other cream but was something I could probably have done myself with a little help from Pepperidge Farm.
Wines are wonderful - several interesting by the glass selections at reasonable prices. Many unusual Spanish wines, off the beaten track Californias, and some New Zealands and French. Waiters have definite opinions on the wines, which is good IMHO. They need more experience. Nice 8 ounce glasses were more than half full of the whites, but the reds were inexplicably less than 1/3 full. When asked about this, it was explained, after ostentatiously eyeballing the pour levels at table height, that the pours are 6 oz and that ours met the criterion. Oh well, I'm trying to cut down.
All in all, this would not pass muster in New York, SF, or even West LA, but for the price and the location it is impossible to do better.
Was there this past Sunday and agree with ipsedixit that it still works just fine as a neighborhood bistro. The Sunday country three course fixed menu was very good and a bargain; nicely dressed farmers market green salad, perfectly roasted half chicken, and a nice apple tart for $25. The wine list, while small, has some interesting selections.