Bistro 45 Pasadena; 1st post; review; long
- justanotherpenguin Mar 25, 2007 05:51 PM
my wife and i have been perusing chowhound since january. we were in athens, greece, looking for places to eat in istanbul, turkey, and came across the site. since then, we have accessed it regularly to check on things, and put it to its first major test on friday (3/23).
it was the wife's birthday and we were looking for a special place to go not far from home. i read some postings for romantic (we've been married for over 30 years) restaurants in pasadena, and was intrigued by "griller141's" post regarding bistro 45.
when i called for reservations, i had a very friendly conversation during which i was asked my wife's name and how it was spelled. we showed up for dinner on friday at 6:30pm. when i told the hostess my name, she immediately looked at my wife, said: "happy birthday, debbie", and handed her a hand written birthday card. it was early and we were immediately seated at a nice corner table. there was a table of medical people (doctors) discussing, rather loudly for an empty restaurant, tumors and other appetizing items. a couple of minutes after being seated, a host came over and offered to move us to a quieter table. this was done without our asking - very nice initiative.
we then had 3 drinks, 2 sets of wine "flight" tastings, a bottle of wine (2004 Grove Street Merlot), an after dinner port (complimentary), two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts. total bill of $240, including a 20% tip. very reasonable, we think.
we had escargot with asparagus in a wine reduction sauce, duck filled ravioli, an ahi with sesame crust, the tenderest tenderloin that we have ever had, a pear with ice cream dessert and assorted sorbets. my wife's desert came on a plate decorated "happy birthday, debbie" in chocolate - the most special birthday desert that she has had in a restaurant in her 29 years. all in all, everything was great, and the menu appears to have many more items that we want to try, so we will definitely be back.
we were there for over 3 hours, and, even though it was a friday night and the restaurant became very crowded, at no time were we even given a hint of being rushed. the waiter, the host and hostess, and the owner (robert) all made sure that we were very, very comfortable. in addition, as we were drinking our wine, my wife accidentally hit my wine glass (she missed me!), and spilled a full glass of merlot on my pure white linen jacket. i washed it out in the restroom as best as i could. when i returned to the table, the waiter took the jacket and soaked it in club soda in an ice bucket until we left. they then put it into a plastic bag to take home. (i took it to the cleaners when they opened on saturday and we will know next thursday whether or not my wife will be allowed near red wine again.) i tell this story because i thought that it was very nice that they went to the extra trouble to try to help us out - they did not have to.
so thank you chowhound and griller141 for helping us find a new, wonderful place. we are looking forward to many more referrals through this site.
Wow! thanks for posting. Your post made me want to try this place partly for the food and partly because the service sounds so fantastic!
I am very happy that you enjoyed this overabused restaurant. When it's good it's really one of the nicer places around. We, too, have had extraordinary times here.
Having said that, there have been not so great times, too. And the $240 for two is a little bit of a put off - did you have an extravagant bottle of wine?
I think this is one of those places that can unexpectedly knock your socks off, but don't count on it. The Arroyo Chop House is one of the more consistent places around and Maison Akira can be the equal of Bistro 45 on a good night. Derek's, Tre Venezie, and The Raymond, in contrast, never seem to have a good night, despite their adamant loyal followings.
Hi, Penguin. Our family went to Lawry's in Bev Hills for Father's Day last year and my husband was respendant in a white jacket he was wearing for the very first time. We had just been served wine and my husband was demonstrating his former water polo glory days to our daughter, spilling a full balloon of cabernet all over the jacket. It was covered - not a drop went elsewhere except the jacket. We were hysterical w/laughter - knowing it was a brand new jacket. The staff was horrified that we'd be angry, but not their fault so what can you do? It was a memorable meal - we laughed and laughed! The next day we took the jacket to Scott @ Bryan's Cleaners on Arroyo Parkway just for the heck of it. There was so much wine spilled that we hadn't even tried to do any spot cleaning. Well, the jacket was ready on Thursday and it was like brand new - not a hint of a stain. Their spot cleaner is a genius. So if your cleaner doesn't work out, try Bryan's and tell them the Bevan's sent you!
I had a good experience at Bistro 45, but because my sister and her in-laws had a horrendous time WITH the owners a few years ago, it's hard for me to push the place. In a nutshell, the in-laws (who live in the Bay Area) purchased two gift certificates for their kids in LA. The restaurant said they would send them to each recipient. Neither gift certificate arrived. When the in-laws called to find out what happened - after all, they'd been charged already - they were given the run around and were treated like crap. My sister got involved, since she lives in Pasadena, and the restaurant treated her in the same fashion. It was if they were purposely trying to get out of replacing the gift certificates that were clearly never sent.
After weeks of back-and-forth with Bistro 45, the in-laws finally got their refund. I just do not understand why the restaurant could not have replaced the "lost" certificates when it had been weeks since they were supposedly sent and no one got anything. Most restaurants have a tracking number on the gift certificates, so none of us could understand why they were so insistent on not replacing them or giving the in-laws the money back.
Just hard for me to stand behind the restaurant when they pull crap like this.
I have to add to the dissent, because we had only okay food and terrible service during our one visit there. We were treated very poorly by our server, although he treated the people sitting next to us wonderfully. We believe that because we were a young couple and did not order alcohol, he decided that our tip would be lackluster and thus gave us terrible service. So while I am glad to hear that the reviewer and his wife got great service, that doesn't mean that everyone can expect it there. Also, I thought the food was good but not great...I can't complain about it, but it just wasn't in the same league as similarly priced special occasion restaurants I have been to. And at those prices, I want better than "can't complain."