Thanks to Carter for mentioning this place - the comparison, even in passing, to Bistro Verdu, made this a must try for me. The chef is late of Pinot Bistro. The no corkage (only until they get their license) made it even more of a no brainer. Went to Topline in Glendale and got a $50 bottle of 2001 Ch St. Jean Cinq Cepage which I saw on a wine list last week (at a prominent upscale eatery) for $175.
Got there at about 6:15 on a Wednesday and by 7 pm each of the 12 or so tables was filled. Nice open sapce with a prominent bar; well-lit, overly cooled, and overly amped music. They turned down the A/C with no hassle on request. Pretty red and silver chairs, though increasingly uncomfortable through the next two hours.
Service was a little annoying - very personable waiter, but he and a busboy had the whole place to themselves. The wine made the slowness bearable.
Deep fried goat cheese on a bed of nicely dressed spinach was nice. Ahi prettily presented on toast with an underlayment of roasted red peppers and thin sliced fennel was...interesting. The peppers and fennel were excellent. The Ahi was completely lost and actually detracted from what was a pretty good vegetable salad.
Tilapia (a highly touted special)was unexpectedly batter fried and without a lot of its own flavor. It was served on a bed of mashed potatoes which were good, but large chunks of bland, highly textured mushrooms was unfortunate.
Cassoulet was fairly deeply flavored, but the beans were a little dry and the "twice cooked pork" was somewhat stringy and the duck was disappointingly dry. Waiter claimed that the pork was fried in duck fat - I doubt it, but I hope not. Anything fried in duck fat shouldn't be dry. Needed salt and liquid.
The wine slowly unfolded and dominated the evening, and, I think, the tables nearby, making the experience memorable.
Dessert of a flourless chocolate cake/puddding with ice cream was the best preparation of the evening. If you go, don't miss it.
This place is not ready for prime time on many levels - service that needs to gain experience, ambience that needs a little tweaking, and cuisine that, while promising, needs to rise above the admittedly bargain pricing. The whole thing, without wine, was $70 with tip, for 2. The bargain price plus the no corkage policy (for now) make this a place worth trying.
This is a great place to have your prize wine, but don't expect a Bistro Verdu in terms of comfort and finesse of food.
345 N. Pass Ave., Burbank, just north of the 134 Fwy. Hard to find - look for the Starbuck's and it's right next door.
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