When I left home many moons ago, straight out of high school, I moved to Berkeley, California. My roommate was also my good friend from high school. She was part of the dance department at UC Berkeley, and became friends with the drama department. Her boyfriend at the time was an actor, so she was part of this wild and crazy clique of actors, directors, writers. I was a part of their social events and gatherings and that is when I met Robert Simon, who at that time was more of a director than an actor. But whatever he was, he was one heck of a powerful guy. Lots of people looked up to him for his expertise and wisdom, you could say he was the king of the drama department. History with Robert was pretty complicated, having enjoyed the company of his brother, as well as another gentlemen who was an actor in that department, names will go unmentioned. That was my past and this is my present. So a few months back I went to a wine tasting in Pasadena and overheard a conversation where Robert was introducing himself, and talking about wines for his Pasadena restaurant. Though this could be the same Robert Simon from Berkeley, but after introducing myself I realized yes this is my lucky day and he was so gracious to tell me about his long-time establishment in Pasadena. We had few laughs and talked about our misspent youth. I soon contacted him and told him about my being a food writer and having an interest in doing a proper review.
We had tried to work something out in the past few months but when I contacted Robert again he said “oh I have the perfect event to invite you to,” and boy was he right!
He has been doing his Bastille Day party at his restaurant for 28 years now, which includes an amazing prefix dinner. I was completely astounded at the camaraderie and community he has established there in Pasadena. But what was I thinking, this is no surprise. As a director of actors, he would bring a whole slew of actors together to mount amazing shows. Bistro 45 is just the same concept except for instead of a play, he is creating an excellent gastronomic feast. We were even fortunate enough to hear an impromptu speech he gave on humanity, community, coming together and peace during this auspicious occasion. Robert still knows how to captivate his audience. Happy as a clam, I proceeded to imbibe on all the incredible bounty at Bistro 45.
He asked me to come solo and said he would take care of my meal. When I arrived, he told me that he had the perfect person in mind to join me at my table. When Philip appeared, I was delighted, being sight-impaired I switched up my momentum and helped guide Philip through this fantastic experience. But much to my amazement, even though Philip is completely blind he is not handicapped. His disability has made him a strong man, with no room for pity parties. He told me that he is a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County Court System and prosecutes in court most days of the week. After spending time with Philip, I realized how lucky I am to have all my senses. But really you could take everything away from me, but don’t take my sense of smell or taste, that would be a tragedy for me. Philip and I talked about everything under the sun, while enjoying the finest French wines and cuisine. He was truly the perfect dinner companion, giving me inspiration, and even more reasons to enjoy my life.
Here’s What I tried:
Rose of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Chateau Saint-Esteve, France 2016.
Mussels, Clams & Fries, the mussels and clams were so fresh, and the preparation was very simple but perfect. The French fries added a nice crisp texture, which of course is very typical in French cuisine. The wine had a nice crisp flavor that added a fruit nuance that could not have been better.
Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Perriere, Loire 2016.
Marinated Alaskan King Salmon Salad with Whipped fresh ricotta, arugula and marinated wild salmon. This dish for me was a palate cleanser along with the wine. The rich garlic flavor from the mussels and clams needed a way to dissipate and the earthy Sauvignon Blanc allowed my palate to be new and cleansed. The combination of salmon, ricotta, arugula, and a kind of sweet vinaigrette made a great impact on my tastebuds.
Merlot Blend, Chateau Mazetier, Bordeaux 2016.
Steak au Poivre, with ratatouille. Ratatouille seemed to always be part of my Bay Area roots, where I met Robert. So this dish really made me feel at home. The steak was so perfectly cooked, and the wine enhanced all of the meaty flavors. A true winner.
Petit Fours, these were all different, my favorite being the lemon bars, I just love a good lemon dessert.
The room was very loud with everyone enthralled in conversation; there was no music in the background. The interior had grey walls, with yellow, white, and grey striped banquets, nice wood floors, and elegant café style chairs. The exterior of the building is very art deco, built in 1939. Chef James told me it used be a mortuary, but it has been reconfigured and renovated so that you would never guess its past history! The crowd was older, some women with their friends having a girl’s night out dinner. Everyone truly enjoying his or her Bastille Day dinner party.
You could tell that everything was hand selected with the utmost attention to each flavor profile and product details. Every course was a stepping-stone to a higher purpose of culinary delights. Each dish was so fresh and flavorful, and the wines matched perfectly with all of the married ingredients.
I would run next time to Bistro 45 for a special occasion, or one of their future events. You just know that you will have the best experience and remember all the little nuances that went into the preparation and presentation.
Chef James Lambrinos has an amazing gift, he really knows how to take direction and prepare a meal to remember. He started at Bistro 45 in October of last year; he studied at The Culinary Institute of America. He came out to greet the customers and see how they were enjoying his food. My waiter, Dan, was very efficient and made sure I was well taken care of.
The ultimate dining experience, like no other. Bistro 45 is an innovative New American and French-style cuisine restaurant that embraces both a traditional and contemporary setting. Located in the heart of Pasadena, we create memorable dishes while always featuring the highest quality “ranch to restaurant” proteins and organic produce. Our chefs are dedicated to providing all guests with “food made with love” which pair greatly with our extensive wine list. We believe in catering to our customers in order to provide them with a personal and extraordinary dining experience. Bistro 45 is the perfect spot for celebrations or for a special night out.
Bistro 45 is proud to be a winner in the 2018 Los Angeles Hot List!
My experience was beyond expectations, what a lovely way to spend the evening. Bistro 45 offers an extraordinary sustainable / organically inspired seasonally changing menu which showcases French technique via new American cooking. Also, I took the train from Wilshire and Western, then the Gold line from Union Station, which added to my evening by not having to stress about driving until much later. I am smitten, and I will return. Thanks Robert Simon for reconnecting and being able to experience all of your life’s hard work!
45 S Mentor Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106