We recently made reservations at Bistro de la Gare for a Friday night dinner for two. We were warmly welcomed into the dining room and seated at the corner window overlooking South Pasadena’s beautiful Carnegie library. The choice of still or sparking water was offered and shortly after we were presented with a plate of toasted baguettes and a tasty, garlicky, olive tapenade. The wine and beer offerings are ample for a restaurant this size and complement the menu nicely. We chose a superb Les 7 Hommes Sancerre, which the server thoughtfully kept chilled tableside.
We started our meal with decidedly typical, French bistro fare—the charcuterie board, which included generous portions of prosciutto, rustic beef cheek terrine with foie gras, dry sausage, and crisp gherkins. Next came a salad of organic beets with pickled chanterelles, and walnuts. Our entrees included roasted sea bass topped with beurre blanc served on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes with dollops of smoky-flavored, earthy-tasting ratatouille, and plump Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in white wine and shallots, served with a bowl of French fries, cut thin and fried to a crispy finish, perfect for dunking in that delicious sweet and briny broth. This is first-rate bistro cooking executed at the highest level, the chef allowing his excellent ingredients to shine unmasked. Close your eyes and you’re in Paris.
Desserts were right on point with a textbook perfect tarte tatin, served warm with vanilla ice-cream, and a frozen coconut-lime mouse cake that was tart and refreshing. Our espressos were served with the signature of an experienced barista—luscious crema.
Bistro de la Gare offers a beautiful room, an attentive wait staff, generous portions, and a chef-owner whose commitment to serving the freshest, best-quality, organic ingredients is evident in every dish. Arrive hungry and enjoy.
Chris and Robin Becker are long-time residents of South Pasadena. They have been involved in the Los Angeles food scene since 1985.