So this is a reincarnation of AKA Bistro with the same players in place and some Hispanic touches added to the menu which is pretty much California cuisine with some ole’. It’s like a slightly more refined version of Cafe Verde with prices that are perhaps 20% higher. There are a lot of interesting looking South American and Spanish wines. You have to pay $3 for bread but it comes with some very tasty avocado butter (shades of Rivera). Tried scallop and shrimp ceviche, salmon, chocolate brownie, a cocktail (which had some heat) and some wine (a Sauvignon Gris). With 2 people, it’s easy to build a $200 check. Going back to his Cafe Jacoulet days, Robert Simon used to give diners complementary port at a meal’s end. He is still doing that. I’m not sure if this is the soul of the rose (apparently a Pasadena reference), but it’s decent if you’ve got the cash. I just don’t see any significant new ground being broken here.
I’d read a review of the place in the Pasadena Weekly a while ago; the reviewer was upfront about her love for all things related to Robert Simon so I wasn’t sure what to make of her assessment.
Sounds like a fan. I think for the time Cafe Jacoulet was the best of his (and Alvin’s) spots. There was at least for a minute the bonus that Shiro was the chef there. Basically, I think since CJ, Mr. Simon has been doing recasts of that establishment, reflecting current trends. He always has good food (although it has gotten much more expensive), and he always has a list of interesting wines. And he always seems to have hip acting servers (“Is there anything I can do for you in the moment?”) I do feel though that his place is not as edgy as it was in former times. Or maybe I’m just a jaded old fart.