For an upscale meal without having to fight the crowds in Westside or Downtown, check out Bistro 45 (45 S. Mentor Ave., 626/795-2478, www.bistro45.com, lunch Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner Tues.–Thurs. 6–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 6–9:30 p.m., Sun. 5–9 p.m., $40–80). This nationally lauded restaurant has beautiful dining rooms: one light and bright with hardwood floors and peach walls with beautiful glass lantern fixtures, and one semi-outdoor space done in gray-blues with distinctive woven chairs and classic French prints.
The cuisine is grounded in the French tradition, but includes a hearty twist of California in the preparation. Menus change seasonally (or more often), and offer lots of fresh seafood as well as high-end meat and veggie-based dishes. For lunch, lighter appetites can be satisfied with fancy salads, but don’t expect much of a midday price break on the bigger entrées. The wine list shifts seasonally to complement the food, and Bistro 45 boasts a full bar with a list of signature martini-esque cocktails.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition