We stumbled into a great place immediately adjacent to La Cabinita in Montrose (Verdugo Bl, just south of Honolulu in NE Glendale) - Bistro Verdu. The chef is lately from Nic's in BH.
Comfortable place, white tablecloths and candles, about 12 tables reasonably spaced, with a bar at one end.
Good service - two waiters for a total of 10 people the night we were there (tonight, Wednesday), very efficient and knowlegable service.
"Small Plates" included an artichoke stew - lemony, slightly astringent, but with an exquisite olive oil undertone; sausage links on Yukon Gold mashed potato base - very piquant with the deep undertones suggestive of good boudin sausage and a rich beefy broth.
"Large Plates": spectacular Coq au Vin - the hit of the evening for such a common dish. Served in a large bowl with stewed onion, carrot and an impressively rich burgundian sauce which acompanied a 1983 DRC La Tache perfectly. Cassoulet of duck leg which compared favorably to anything Patrick Healy ever did with French pot-au-feus in terms of smoky depth and complexity. Rack of pork - pretty good meat, but a walnut bread pudding underlayer was so spectacular that the whole table ordered it for dessert (not on the menu).
Other desserts were more imaginative than well-executed, but pretty good - servicable creme brule; chocolate pot au creme was appropriately rich; walnut bread pudding with ice cream was moist, with a rich vanilla flavor.
No corkage and enthusiastic wine service topped off a truly excellent experience.
The overall experience suggested an eastside (lower key) version of a good westside place, at a fraction of the cost (about $25 per). Bring the wine you were saving.
I have to say that that this is currently a much better choice than its neighbor - La Cabinita - which has steadily deteriorated from the glory days when it was on Foothill Bl, and the early days at its present location. Bric Montrose, the only other viable alternative in the area has consistently failed to live up to its initial promise.