Today is: Saturday, September 30, 2023
Bistro Garden Restaurant Review
Picture a romantic retreat in the French countryside where days conclude with glowing fireplaces and elegant meals, and you have the essence of Bistro Garden, which offers a warm and charming atmosphere that plays host to stunning haute cuisine. I would
say that the menu delicately melds European culinary traditions with local California ingredients. The result is sensational and exquisite fine dining which, as evidenced
by numerous awards and national recognition, makes Bistro Garden one
of the most significant dining establishments in Studio City.
The Bistro Garden at Coldwater is the third restaurant founded by the Niklas family, who created The Bistro and The Bistro Garden restaurants in Beverly Hills
beginning in the 1960s. These were the two most famous restaurants,
frequented by celebrities of the era including Elizabeth Taylor and
Humphrey Bogart. The Bistro Garden became the lunchtime
commissary for Nancy Reagan and friends
during the Reagan presidency.
In 1990, Carolyn Niklas Pappas and her husband Gregory (whose family owned 15 restaurants throughout Los Angeles including Angie’s in West LA), decided to move the restaurant to Studio City, where for 18 years it has maintained its reputation
for excellence, service and beauty… and is still the place for celebrities to feel at home.
The third generation of the Niklas Pappas family, daughter Christina,
currently works at the restaurant as well as studies Business Management.
She will attend Culinary School when she graduates next year.
Described by Zagat as a beautiful dark mahogany bar and seating area accommodates 40. Burgundy fabric barstools and matching sofas in the newly created lounge area help create one of the most comfortable bars in the city. Hors d’oeuvres are complimentary Monday through Friday evenings from 5-7pm. There is live music nightly in the bar area. A continental wine selection of over 200 bottles
featuring California, French, Australian, Chilean and Italian wines.
As we were escorted into the dining room, I felt as if I was entering the country home of a good friend and gracious host. A “classic with a beautiful gardenlike setting, the Bistro Garden is modeled after a European Wintergarden with 30 foot ceilings,
glass latticework and expansive skylights. The dining room seats 180.
Our Server Sandor
Fireside Room, with its 19th Century Scottish Marble Mantle, Crystal
Chandeliers, Private Bar and Baby Grand, seats 60 with a dance floor,
80 without. Standing room allows for 120 guests. This room opens
up to the main dining room for events of up to 300.
We were soon greeted by our server Sandor, who has been working at Bistro Garden for the last 27 years, whose own enthusiasm and attentive service would prove to greatly enhance our experience. Eager to allow us to begin our meal, he offered to bring a glass of Champagne, Moët & Chandon White Star, before
bringing the menu. This champagne, he explained, had been a mainstay on
Bistro Garden’s wine list for years, continuing to elicit enthusiastic feedback
from diners. The gently effervescent brut lived up to its reputation offering
a hint of creaminess, crisp acidity, and a subtle but lingering finish.
Sandor then presented the menu, which we began with the most amazing Lobster Bisque en Croute; service in a puff pastry with the most amazing lobster bisque. Rich yet delicate, one bite was full of complexity and elegance. Perfectly composed, the flavors and textures worked in harmony so that the delicate taste of the lobster was mirrored in the delicate texture of the pastry shell. The sauce offered a fleeting burst
of rich flavor, almost a tease that left us wanting more. . The soup was the color
of ripe apricots, golden and smoky, with delicate slivers of dill and thin lines of
white cream weaving in and around the viscous dish. The soup itself spoke of
elegance and harmony, with layers of flavor and a complexity not unlike a fine
wine. Each bite tasted of the essence of lobster, with a hint of earthiness
and a subtle suggestion of cream so rich with flavor I twice
closed my eyes to fully savor a sensual spoonful.
Our first course, the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartar with Avocado and Ginger, was
described to us as a “palate awakener” that would pair perfectly with our
Sauvignon Blanc, Giesen, Marlborough from New Zealand.
Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartar
Maryland Lump Crab Cake
The artfully-presented dish featured sculptures of lavishly garnished tartar. The
delicate taste of sashimi-grade ahi was accentuated by subtle flavors the
avocado and ginger the gentle flavors of this dish slowly awakened
our taste buds, preparing us for the heightened flavors to come.
We eagerly looked forward to our next starter; the Maryland Lump Meat Crab Cake with roasted poblano pepper coulis. As our starters were clearing, I glanced at the full dining room around me. Early in the evening, the restaurant had filled quickly, and the staff wove gracefully and effortlessly around the room. The staff was so attentive, that my date’s yet-unused fork, which had inadvertently become the target of a stray
drop of soup, was quickly noticed and replaced without missing a beat. Such
formal, elegant service offered a refreshing taste of old-world tradition.
Our next starters were also fenomenal in taste and presentation and if you are a Carpaccio lover, you must try theirs. The Beef Carpaccio; shaved parmesan,
mustard sauce and extra virgin olive oil was sensacional, we truly loved this dish.
As per our server suggestion, their Osetra Caviar was something that we should not miss, so I ordered and I did not regret. Another winner and without any doubt the
best way to present and eat a caviar in a elegant and unforgettable way. The Osetra Caviar had a delicate flavor and it was served with accompaniments that did not overwhelm its flavor. I loved the traditional garnishes that it was served, which included small slices of toast, creme fraiche, onions, egg yolks and egg whites.
Prime New York Steak with Herbed Garlic Butter
Looking forward to our main course, we perused the extensive and award-winning wine list. I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir, Chalone, Monterey County, which promised to match the elegant complexity of the Prime New York Steak with Herbed Garlic Butter. The meat was brilliantly inviting— the succulent meat that seemed rustic, bursting with character of Provincial France, while the elegant preparation transformed the ingredients into refined haute cuisine. The duality of the dish—simple ingredients combined in heightened complexity, seemed to embrace the soul of French cuisine. The Pinot Noir was a grand accompaniment, mirroring this dish in refined
complexity with layers of spice and dark fruit, and for one moment I truly
felt as if I was in the French countryside. Also the Pommes Frites that
was part of this dish were absolutely incredible and delicious.
Broiled Gulf Prawns with Diable Mustard Sauce
While there were so many tempting entrées on the night’s menu, including Sauteed Salmon with Roasted Corn Salsa, Chcken Curry, Veal Picatta with Pasta Athena, Colorado Rack of Lamb, after one bite I was thrilled we had ordered the Broiled Gulf Prawns with Diable Mustard Sauce. We later learned that the dish had been so often requested
after its first appearance that it quickly became a regular feature.
With each bite offering the satisfaction of comfort food, it was this dish that
made me realize that everyone should at some point visit Bistro Garden,
regardless of their knowledge of French cuisine or fine dining.
Our dessert, almost dainty in its elegance, proved the perfect conclusion to our truly astounding meal. The Crème Brulee featured a mild, custard-like tart crowned by a delicate crème, and the Apple Tarte which was delicious and together, the elements combined in gentle harmony offering an incredible taste and consistency. As
we savored the light desserts we felt our palates slowly cleared of the
complex flavors we had been privileged to experience.
Having reached the end of our leisurely meal, we found our visit to have been filled with graciousness, warmth and charm; the harmonious combination of atmosphere
and cuisine working to transport us to another time and place. While we found ourselves reluctant to return to reality, we were thrilled to have experienced
Bistro Garden, a magical establishment that for over 30 years has continued to
offer one of the most exquisite, enjoyable, and evocative meals in Los Angeles.
Carolyn Niklas Pappas and Gregory Pappas
Lunch / 11am – 3:00pm (M-F), Dinner / 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Sun –Thurs)
and until 11am on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Bar menu is available throughout from opening to closing.
For map and location click Here!
For more information please visit their website at www.bistrogarden.com
Article By: Mary Adams
Photos By: Chris Marx
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