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Pasadena Bistro - Madeleine or Cafe Bizou

  • t

Help! I'm taking my SO out for dinnner for her birthday and I don't have a lot to spend (I wish I could afford the Rtiz or The Raymond) and I have scoured this board and I'm so confused. I want this to be nice and romantic even though I don't have a lot to spend. She doesn't eat Pork or Beef and I would rather not go Asian. We are new to Pasadena and I would like to stay in the area and I'd like to keep it between $100-125 with tax and tip. I have a reservation at Cafe Bizou and I don't know if i should change it.



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    1. If you don't mind driving for 7 minutes to the west, head over to Eagle Rock and take her to Cafe Beaujolais. I've yet to take anyone there who doesn't love it.
      They arguably have the best French Onion soup I've had to date and I've had a bunch.
      They have a signature Halibut dish that's mouth watering. The Filet Mignon is amazing as well as the Salmon. They have an extensive French wine list at very reasonable prices. The servers are all French and believe it or not, they're extremely friendly and helpful. Ask them to suggest a wine and they will. Best of all, you''ll walk out spending $100-$120 for the two of you, including a bottle of wine and tip. Most items on the menu are $15.00-$20.00. When busy, it can get a little loud. Reservations on a weekend is recommended. I think their theme is "French food without the attitude".


      Cafe Beaujolais
      1712 Colorado Blvd
      Eagle Rock, CA 90041
      (323) 255-5111

      Cafe Beaujolais
      1712 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

      4 Replies
      1. re: Joe

        Bistro de la gare in So Pas. (I believe same proprietors as Cafe Beaujolais)

        1. re: Cecilbee

          The original owners of Cafe Beaujolais sold it quite a while back and are the owners of Bistro de la Gare. I have never been to Madeleine's and would like to some day. I have been to Bistro de la Gare, Cafe Beaujolais and Cafe Bizou. I think they all offer great value and I like them all but I would suggest that you look at the menus for all of the above before you make your decision. I have also been to Cafe Verde. Very good and innovative. The owner is quite engaging as well.

          1. re: Fru

            No wonder! I went to Cafe Beaujolais a long time ago and didn't think it was anything special, the food was just ok. So I could never understand the raves it gets on this board. I really don't like Bistro de la Gare, at all. Well that figures. Now I've got to get back to the "new" Cafe Beaujolais.

            Didn't care for Cafe Bizou either. Love the breakfast at Cafe Verde (haven't tried dinner), but a very very tiny, squishy place--charming though. Will be trying Madeleine's soon.

        2. re: Joe

          I haven't been to Madeleine, but I would agree with Cafe Beaujolais over Bizou, foodwise. Bizou does have booths, which is a bit more intimate.

          1. I've been to Madeleine's once, on Valentine's Day 2006. We enjoyed it but we weren't wowed. I've been wanting to go back. If you wind up there, please tell us all about it. It's walking distance from home, so a good report will hasten our return.

            I have one other suggestion that would certainly fit the bill money-wise: Cafe Verde. It's a tiny place, and whether it's sufficiently romantic is open to question. It's certainly pleasant, but it's so small that it doesn't lend itself to intimacy except for the fact that you sit really close to each other. If you went in the middle of the week (Wed. or Thurs.), it might not be as busy, and therefore more romantic. It's BYOB, so that really helps keep the price down. If it's warm enough in the evening, you can even sit at a table outside (candlelight!), which amps up the romance factor.

            Cafe Verde
            961 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jack Flash

              Cafe Bizou is a great bargain for old style, cheap gourmet food. Have a good time without breaking the bank. Very popular with the older crowd.

              Madeleine's is the heir to the old Halie's location: a big modified mansion in Pasadena. Four of us enjoyed a great dinner there tonight in front of the fireplace.

              Everything we were served, from the seared scallops to the venison was delicious and interesting (a la California cuisine). The service was excellent, but then again it was no trick, as we were there on a Wednesday night. A restaurant has no business opening its doors if it can't at least provide excellent service on a Wednesday. We'll definitely be back.

              The four of us each enjoyed an appetizer, a main course, dessert, and coffee, and we shared two bottles of wine. The price, including tax, tags, and freight, came to about five bills, so it wasn't cheap. Nevertheless, we felt we got a good value.

            2. Def. go for Cafe Beaujolais. It will be worth the drive and the food is incredible.

              1. What about the Green Street Cafe?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Diana

                  Nothing wrong with Green,street. I think of it as almost a family style restaurant and not a date destination... it is definitely not in the league with any of the above IMO.

                  1. re: Fru

                    Green Street has always been good to us for lunch, not really for dinner. Their light lunch fare seems to work much better than their dinner plates, and the evening staff has seemed on our visits to be more interested in interacting with each other than with the customers.

                    With only one exception I've never had less than good food and service at Bizou. They're particularly good with seafood - if they have sand dabs on the menu get them!

                2. While the ambiance at Bizou is nice enough, the food is always disappointing.
                  You might try Smitty's on Lake, which while it can be a bit of a zoo, make reservations with a booth as part of the request and let them know the basis for the reservation, and it should be very nice - same owners of the more expensive Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chop House.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: carter

                    I find the food at the Bizou in Sherman Oaks to be good, but I have heard the other locations are not so great. Are they even connected anymore?

                    1. re: Diana

                      Pasadena is still connected, yet sans Philippe at the door, the feeling is not the same. And my love for the food in S/O is not as high as yours.
                      Santa Monica was sold 2+ years ago, became Bizou Garden, and has been resold again and will become Prego.

                  2. Madeleines is definitely more romantic, more of a special occasion place. I went to a birthday dinner there last month and really enjoyed it....food, service & atmosphere are all top notch. Bizou is ok, and certainly less expensive, especially if you bring your own wine and take advantage of the cheap corkage.

                    1. I just wanted to say that we used to like Bistro de la Gare, but the last time we went the food and service were horrific. We vowed never to go back...


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Terahertz

                        I'd been planning to give them a try at lunchtime, since the last time we ate there was something like two years ago. I think I'll still do that; we had one less than wonderful meal I think because the kitchen was WAY in the weeds - the fault of the front staff, who simply should not have let all those people in at once - and so service was slow and the food sloppily prepared. If they do a lousy job on a weekday lunch I'll just kiss'em bye-bye.

                      2. Try The Crepevine The are on that little Cobblestone ally by Burke Williams in Between Green and Colorado. That place reminds me of Being in Europe. They have a new menu with a few old Favs. My recommends: The Tuna Tartar, the mac & cheese, any of the flatbread pizza's .

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: PurpleTeeth

                          I also enjoy Crepe vine, have been there a number of times. But almost every time I've been, the hostess asks if I have a reservation, and when I say no, she gives me hoity attitude! Every single one of those times, I know, and she knows, and I know that she knows, that a reservation would not have been required.

                          1. re: slacker

                            I have to say they have been nothing but sweet to us. Actually very nice and helpful. They can get a bit busy but I have never had them be rude.

                            1. re: PurpleTeeth

                              I wouldn't exactly call it rude. Just a little pretentious.

                        2. Cafe Beaujolais: had two good meals there with great service.
                          Madeline's: had appies there with wine one night and found all choices over seasoned.

                          Try: Maison Akira in Pasadena, Red White and Blues in Pasadena. I agree the Crepe Vine is great! I have heard 750 ML in South Pasadena is a good place, too.

                          1. You've got a choice to make in my opinion: Madeleine's is much more romantic and the food is much better than Bizou, but you will be pushing your money target. Bizou would have no problem coming in under $100 for two, and you can even have a few glasses of wine apiece.
                            Beaujolais is quite a kick and, depending on what you want for this occasion, might fill the bill. The food is great and inexpensive and you can get by without overpaying for wine. It is quite crowded usually and gets loud. Not overly comfortable, either, compared to the other two places. Bistro de la Gare got the old Beaujolais owners, but it seems to me that Beaujolais kept the food. They are similar, but Gare is a little quieter and less fun.
                            Crepe Vine has surprisingly good food, though it is small and feels cramped for a special occasion. No problem with the price, though.
                            Akira won't be possible on your budget without a lot of scrimping.

                            1. Hi Teal, one more opinion for you! I am a very discerning eater and my foodie boyfriend and I always go out to the Sherman Oaks Cafe Bizou for special occasions because I do not have a lot of money. You can easily do $75 there for two, three courses each. Bring a good TJ's $8 to $10 bottle with you (this is a must, Cafe Bizou's corkage is only $3). Again, I can't vouch for Pasadena's Cafe Bizou but Sherman Oaks NEVER fails me.