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Your Favorite Pasadena Bistro?

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Hey Hounds,

My wife and I are always going to our usual places, such as Madeleine's or Cafe Beaujolais, so tomorrow night we want to try a bistro we've never been to. All of these look pretty good:

Firefly
Cafe Verde
Derek's
Bistro de la Gare

Which is your favorite? All of the above? None?

Thanks!

--N8

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Cafe Verde
961 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

Firefly
1009 El Centro St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Bistro de la Gare
921 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Cafe Beaujolais
1712 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

Madeleine's Restaurant & Wine Bistro
1030 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

Derek's Bistro-Dickerson West Caterers
183 E Glenarm St, Pasadena, CA 91105

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  1. Give The Raymond a try.

    New chef, new menu, new 'tude.

    www.theraymond.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      from list above...i like derek's. it is on the high end and more of fine dinning then rest of the places you mention.

    2. FYI, Madeleine's has been closed for about a year now. It's just as well, they went through some changes in the back, and the think the down economy took them out. You are in luck though, the former chef at Madeleine's Claud Beltran opened up a new place on Mentor next to the Ice House. It's called Noir. It's pretty small, though the recently opened patio will be nice I think when the days get longer (and when it's not raining). They have an extensive wine list and the food, which is mostly small plates, is excellent.

      I'd recommend it, but make a reservation, because it is small.

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      Noir Food & Wine
      40 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106

      2 Replies
      1. re: inlikeflt

        Wow, I'm surprised. I didn't realize it's been more than a year since we went! It's continuing to be recommended on the boards, too...

        Noir looks great. I feel a little bad now about not supporting Claud more at Madeleine's, so we'll have to give it a shot tonight!

        Thanks to all for your input. I'm definitely going to put a star next to Red White + Bluezz for next time.

        1. re: inlikeflt

          Noir is excellent; great food and service

        2. Except for Cafe Beaujolais, I've never tried the places on your list... due to mixed reviews I've read here on CH and around the web.

          My favorite evening out in Pasadena is generally Red White + Bluezz. Vertical Wine Bistro is on my radar again, too, with the arrival of Chef Laurent Quenioux. We went for his Sunday night cassoulet dinner a few weeks ago and it was spectacular.

          We also enjoy Briganti in South Pasadena-- lovely enclosed patio, and Gus's BBQ though that's not exactly a bistro.

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          Vertical Wine Bistro
          70 N. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

          Briganti
          1423 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

          1. I've only had breakfast at Cafe Verde. Not cheap, but good.
            You might consider Smitty's but I think Red White + Bluezz is better.

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            Red White & Bluezz
            70 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

            1. Quadrupel Brasserie on Union Street in Pasadena calls itself a French bistro.... menu looks interesting so I plan to check it out tomorrow

              3 Replies
              1. re: foufou

                We hit Quadrupel once, but found it to me fairly mediocre. The ideas were decent, nothing revolutionary, very typical fine dining fair. But in general, the execution was off.

                1. re: inlikeflt

                  Agree re: Quadrupel. With a Belgian name and Belgian Art-Nouveau decor theme, I was hoping they'd have a nice Belgian menu too, but it seems they lost their nerve and went Continental-California-whateverish. It wasn't horrible but wasn't memorable either, and there are better options at that price.

                  1. re: Bradbury

                    Thank you, inlikefit and Bradbury, I will go to Gus's instead Quadrupel today....Wild Swede had an enthusiastic, detailed review and its a DINELA option

              2. We loved Bistro de la Gare when they first opened; a year later, went back one night when the kitchen was totally slammed and it was a disaster, and not a cheap one. I've heard mixed reviews since - that's REALLY mixed, as in either "Fabulous" or "Forget it".

                If I were going to try the Raymond, I'd hit the 1897 bar, and then order from there. Nice space, friendly, good cocktails and the menu looked appealing, but we were going elsewhere. I do second the motion for Noir - it is NOT a bistro, but the food is very nice (Oh, those baby lamb chops!) and if you like pinot noir you're in Heaven.

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                Bistro de la Gare
                921 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

                3 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  Just so folks can find it, the bar is actually called the "1886"....agreed, try it- their take on the classic G&T with infused orange is excellent!
                  (the Raymond has most definitely evolved beyond the place it was when I waited tables there in 1980).

                  1. re: Local

                    Hey, I'm old - I always get my years mixed up these days!

                    Yes, I think my niece got the G&T variant when we were in there. We wandered in right at 5:00 hoping we weren't TOO early (nor TOO underdressed), and while they were still setting up everyone was very warm and welcoming. Despite the somewhat swanky surroundings it felt more and more like a neighborhood bar as it began to fill up. Good music, too.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Old, schmold...we're just seasoned.

                      They've definitely upgraded the furnishings, but I like what they've done with the place ;-) The "artisan" cocktails are nice without being overly gimicky. The Rose Parade is also tasty (gin, soda, cucumber, and rose water)

                2. My favorite as of late is La Grande Orange. Loved it when it first opened, then it seemed to falter a little - but my last few recent visits have been spot on.

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                  La Grande Orange
                  260 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

                  1. Been to your first three, and they're all really different but all good. Just based on what might be your taste (which sounds like mine), I'd also check out a couple off Lake Ave., Bistro 45 and Cafe 140 South. Bistro 45 is similar to Derek's - everyone on their best behavior but not over-the-top. Cafe 140 more of a gastropub, with pizzas and burgers on the menu, a long bar and a TV up in the corner, but surprisingly pleasant.

                    Someone mentioned Vertical Wine Bistro, and we found it a little uneven - I had the black cod with lentils which was excellent, but the charcuterie plate was pretty anemic. Service was really slow, but then they had a huge party going at the same time, so I want to go back a couple more times before passing judgement.

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                    Bistro 45
                    45 S Mentor Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

                    1. POP champagne and dessert bar (they also do meals) on Union.