Bistro 39 delivers artistically garnished plates worthy of being tacked to the wall, if only your body's aesthetic urge to interior decorate outweighed its evolutionary desire to gobble up delicious things. Starters such as escargot Bourgogne ($8), Dungeness crab cakes ($8), and classic lobster bisque ($9) provide an opportunity to inform your first selection from Bistro 39's extensive beer and wine list. Main plates hail from salty seas and diverse terrains with options including sautéed lemon-garlic tiger shrimp on a bed of angel-hair pasta ($17) or seared duck with Grand Marnier reduction ($24). The Statue of Liberty's torch is surprisingly small, but the bistro's crème brûlée ($6) leaves American mouths agape with awe.
Within CrêpeStudio's elegantly aged brick building in Old Town Pasadena, bakers follow an old family recipe when whipping up batter daily and shaping it into crêpes. Plates land on tables loaded with 24 varieties of sweet, savory, or breakfast crepes, which wrap around an array of grilled meats, cheeses, and vegetables or fresh berries and ice cream. Salads and paninis made to order house greater portions of ingredients without forcing vegetables to protect themselves against the elements by piling inside a sliced-open tomato. The studio surrounds its guests with modern décor, such as sleek wood paneling, exposed-brick walls, and colorful illuminated signs.
Culture 22 stocks its carnivore-pleasing menu with porterhouses, bacon-topped burgers, and seafood. Peppercorn-crusted 12-ounce new york steak au poivre bathes in a cognac sauce, and a dozen oysters paired with inventive dipping sauces from the raw bar set taste buds out to sea. The signature New Mexican–style green-chile burger imbues a half-pound of beef with piquant Southwestern flavors, accompanied by french fries that, like wooden boards in a martial-arts studio, are hand-cut. As diners divvy up jumbo cocktail shrimp, servers ferry cocktails and beer to ebony four-top tables set aglow by chandelier and candle lighting.
The griddle gurus at Crème de la Crepe craft sweet and savory, buckwheat-based crêpes as well as French cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Crêpe craftsmen fold delicate dough around customer-chosen toppings such as brie, smoked salmon, Nutella, and béchamel sauce, which is one of the defining sauces of French cuisine, along with the thin, inky juice extracted from dictionaries. Additional menu items include baguette sandwiches, an assortment of quiches, and fresh pastas tossed in house-made bolognaise, pesto broth, and white-wine-based sauces.
Crepes and Grapes Café celebrates and honors French culture with its sidewalk cafe atmosphere, Bastille Day celebration, and a variety of sweet and savory crepes. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the shop churns out thin, stuffed pancakes filled with ingredients that range from maple and cream to garlic-rich shrimp scampi. Guests can sample the edible wares within the sunny storefront or sit just outside underneath table umbrellas surrounded by salivating flower beds.