Last night, four of us made 9:00 PM dinner reservations at Bistro K, the new restaurant located in the same tiny spot that Dining with Andre used to be. The interior was nicely decorated- yellow walls with soft candlelight and about 5 tables total; small but comfortable. You get the feeling that you are eating at someone's house, not a restaurant.
We were served crostini with a kind of sour cream/butter/chive spread which was very good and a nice change from the bread basket, which sabotages many meals if you can't resist it. There was just enough crostini for everyone to have 2 thin pieces so it actually enhanced our appetite instead of killing it. Anyway, we started with three appetizers: the Steamed Black Mussels with Smoked Bacon, Fresh Hawaiian Blue Shrimps, grilled and Served in a Citrus Coriander Dressing, and a small order of the Mushroom Raviolis, on a Bed of Leeks and Braised Winter Vegetables. The steamed mussles were outstanding- garlicky and tender, with fairly large squares of smoky bacon. Only complaint was the more-than-occasional sand in the mussles, but the flavor was strong and perfect- made me kind of wish for a bread basket since there was a nice amount of the liquid at the bottom of the bowl which, since I couldn't really lap it up like a dog (I wanted to) we sadly had to leave behind. The shrimp was nice and grilled- 3 enormous ones came with a salad of shredded veggies wrapped up in a large leaf of lettuce and tied with a ling chive. Interesting presentation and meaty flavor. The mushroom ravioli was another standout since the pasta was nice and thin, the filling was flavorful but subtle and the roasted julienned vegetables were only slightly coated with a creamy sauce. Understated, elegant, and delicious!
The main courses were also excellent, with two of us opting for the Soy Glazed Duck Leg Confit, Sweet Potato Puree with Candied Pecan and Jack Daniels, on a Bed of Crunchy Cabbage, served with a Light Jus. It's officially made my "what's my craving" list- it was like Thanksgiving.....2 meaty and round duck legs with the tiny bone sticking out of each- I think it was a 95% to 5% ratio of meat to bone. The sweet glaze went so well with the natural flavor of the duck, and the sweet potato puree with pecan and the slightly salty cabbage made music in my mouth. It was one of those dishes where you want to get a bit of all three things onto your fork for that perfect bite, since everything complimented each other so well. My friend ordered the Pacific Skate wing, Spicy Lime Relish Infusion, Sweet Potato Galette which was also tender and juicy, although if you don't like fishy seafood, the darker parts of the skate may be a slight turnoff. My husband went with the Filet of Pink Dorade From New Zealand, Artichoke Hearts, Homemade Sun dried Tomatoes, Garlic Confit and a Light Chinese Star Anis Jus, which he loved but I couldn't really be objective about since the one thing I can't really handle is Anis. I think it maybe too strong a spice to put in a main dish like that, since after about 5 bites, my husband said he couldn't really take anymore either. I'm sure, to an anis lover, it would probably make a wonderful dinner but again, I can't take it. It was well made and presented though.
Overall, I think Bistro K is making wonderful food with great attention to detail. You feel like it is made by someone who really cares about cooking and presentation, but there is no pretention whatsoever. The portions are just right- you could have an appetizer and an entree without feeling stuffed nor deprived. They also have brunch on Sundays, which I am looking forward to trying. No liquor license yet, so it's BYOB with no charge. 3 appetizers and 4 entrees later, the bill was only $82.00 for the 4 of us. A steal. Subtle, friendly and helpful service also a big plus.
Bistro K is located at 1000 Fremont Avenue, South Pasadena, California. (626) 799-5052.