Third visit to this Montrose bistro (Verdugo Road south of Honolulu, 3 doors up from La Cabinita in NE Glendale); better each time.
Appetizers: escargot - garlic butter; actually not up to the classic French garlic bomb, but refined and very earthy; some sand grains unfortunately. Sauteed calamari - not deep fried and not battered; truly exquite delicate ocean flavor, intriguing texture, set off with preserved lemon and piquante capers. A perfect foil to a refined Sancerre or a subdued Russian River Chard.
Mains: Seared scallops; heavy crust with a salt air tang offset by an underlayer of densely flavored lentils. Root vegetables in filo on a carrot coulis. Impressively showcased an older French Bordeaux (1979 Cos D'Estournel) as well as an exuberant newer Zinfandel.
Cheese platter ($8) with 5 cheeses. Some were too cold, but very interesting with a deeply colored cheddar, very pungent American Blue, Morbiere, 2 soft cheeses (camembert and a brie - both could have used more time), and an interesting apple pear compote and freshly roasted pecans. Not up to Patina, but a small fraction of the hassle and price.
Off the menu dessert of walnut bread pudding - not as good as previous times, but with the homemade ice cream it was hard to complain too much.
Service was a welcome pleasure after other recent experiences. Informal, efficient, and knowlegeable.
Suggest weekdays (but not Wednesdays - that's mine); very relaxed before 7pm.
I am coming off a remarkable series of consistent disappointments: Campanille, Water Grill, and - most egregiously - Patina. It is hard to find fault with this place. A very refreshing reminder of what a great restaurant experience can be, and it's repeatable (very unusual). Total price for two - no corkage wine not included - but with every course possible - $60.00.