March 22, 2009

Pasadena's Good Eats

R, J & I had the pleasure of a celebratory meal at Bistro 45.

We showed up at 5:30 -- they weren't really ready to seat folks but treated us extremely graciously and made us comfortable until our server was ready for us.

We all had salads, each of which were delicious, 2 house salads, and my beet and goat cheese salad (mmm... I swear, I order at least one of these each week during spring... I love beets, and I love goat cheese, how can I resist?)

R loves rose´s, and since it was her big day, we ordered one of their inspired selections, The Jacaman 2006 vin gris de pinot noir -- probably my favorite rose that I've ever tasted (of course, it's sold out!).

Our entre´es were all amazing. J is a vegetarian, so he ordered the Baked Polenta with Fennel ratatouille, fondue of spinach and Sonoma goat cheese. We were blown away with the presentation (of course, J is throwing signs, perhaps to compensate for his non-blood-thirsty vegetarian ways?):


R ordered the trout, and it came so delicately prepared that I couldn't believe it was the same fish I ate growing up camping -- not a single bone to be found, so moist, so well-pared, and, most-importantly, so not-fishy.

I ordered the ahi and salmon tartar. It was excellent and had the extra-special bonus of being the right size to leave room for dessert.


For dessert, R ordered the crème brule´e en cage. Damn. First, it came with a celebratory message on the plate for R's graduation and a candle -- such adorable service on a Saturday night for under-dressed patrons without a reservation.

Plus, the cookies with which the dessert was served were so good that R later admitted she almost didn't share. It wasn't 'til the final bite of the oatmeal flour cinammon heaven cookie that she finally realized she wanted to *talk* about how good it was, and in order to do so she'd have to let us have a bite, so she grudgingly handed us each a small morsel. Amazing!

The only slightly below-average offering was the cheese plate. The blue cheese was a huge ball of salt. The cow's milk cheese was just okay, as was the sheep's milk. But the dessert was amazing and the coffee was perfect, so just skip the cheese and you'll be thrilled with the entire experience.

Overall, I was very impressed and sincerely enjoyed the meal: ambiance--great, service--friendly and excited to share the celebration for R's graduation with us, wine selection--impressive, food--delicious, pricing--great value (approximately $77/pp including generous tip for a leisurely meal of 2 amazing courses each, a shared dessert, a cheese course, an excellent bottle of wine, and 3 coffees).

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