Restaurant of the Week: Bistro Roti

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CLOSED IN 2010

This week’s restaurant: Bistro Roti, 1041 E. 16th St. (at Upland Hills), Upland.

Bistro Roti is in the business center immediately west of Upland Hills Country Club. The name refers to the restaurant’s wood-burning rotisserie. I tried the place out for lunch the other day.

The interior is upscale-casual. A flat-screen TV was silently showing the Food Network and three other tables were occupied. The lunch menu has salads, sandwiches, pastas and pizza; the dinner menu is more ambitious with steaks, chops and seafood entrees from $16 to $45. They also do breakfast. (See the menus on the bistro’s website.)

I went casual with a tuna melt on sourdough with fries ($9.25). I’ve mentioned before that a tuna melt is my baseline sandwich. (This remained true even though Upland uses 16th Street as its name for Base Line, ha ha.) No, seriously, a tuna melt is what I tend to order to judge whether a place is putting any effort into its food.

Well, the Bistro Roti tuna melt displays real effort. It tasted like, and was, according to the server, made from real tuna, not tuna from a can. Chopped onions, celery and shredded cheese completed the effect. The fries were thin and crispy. At first I thought they were nothing special, but then I noticed I was finishing them. A small dish of ketchup was delivered rather than a bottle, a nice touch. The service was prompt and professional.

Bistro Roti merits further investigation. The only obvious drawback is that when you look out the windows, or sit out on the patio, your view is of for-lease signs in the center’s numerous empty spaces. A sign of the times. But the quality of the food proved distracting.

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  • Susan Patterson

    Bistro Roti and its former iteration, Espresso Yourself, has been a local fave for years. They have consistently good food, service and (except for the for-lease signs) ambiance. A nice couple owns and operates the place while also running a catering business. I’m glad you were able to visit.

  • Bob Terry

    David, we all love your restaurant reviews (Allen Borgen & David Cohen take notice!) but my goodness…Duck at $32, Filet $38 and the controversial Veal Chop $44! I appreciate great food from owner/operators…e.g. Antonino’s, Spaggi’s, Tutti Mangia and the like but the pricing is unreal. I’d love to try is someday but I guess I’ll just have to wait until my stimulus package arrives. Like my darling mother says, “When my ship comes in…I’ll be at the airport!”

    [You can always get a tuna melt for $9.25. -- DA]

  • RK

    On your recommendation, I was in the area and tried Bistro Roti for dinner.

    Didn’t have the $32 duck or the $38 filet but instead ordered an appetizer (probably the best part of the meal) and for entrees, the coquelet (cornish game hen; actually not real common on most restaurant menus) and my friend ordered the pork roulade. (Both of these were under $20.)

    Unfortunately, the reviews are pretty mixed. The appetizer of onion rings was very good, nice and light with good dipping sauces. The pork roulade was pretty good. The apple and onion in the roulade was a nice complement to the pork.

    However, the cornish hen was dry. And I am pretty sure that the mashed potatoes that accompanied the pork were of the powdered variety (and were served almost cold) and the french beans that accompanied both entrees were frozen (not fresh). Maybe with a $20 entree this would be OK but if I got these with the duck or steak, I wouldn’t be a happy diner.

    And the wine served (Delicato) is pretty sub-standard. (You can find it most supermarkets for about $4 a bottle, and it tastes it.) Having it on the menu is fine but it wouldn’t hurt to have some other choices; I think most semi-serious wine drinkers will pay a couple of dollars more for a better selection.

    The service really was very good but sorry, I can’t say I am in a big rush to try the Bistro Roti again.

    [Thanks for the unvarnished comments. Perhaps diners are better off sticking to the lower-ambition items at lunch. -- DA]

  • http://blogs.dailybulletin.com/rcnow Wendy Leung

    How come you give us a review of a tuna melt at a fine dining restaurant? I want to know what you think of the $44 veal.

    [Because I pay for these meals out of my own pocket, and my pockets aren't that deep! -- DA]

  • http://originalpechanga.blogspot.com Original Pechanga

    We’ve been to Bistro Roti a few times and the review would be decidedly MIXED.

    I had the cornish game hen, and it was moist, but cool, some parts cold. The stuffing had terrific flavor and 10 degrees warmer and it would have been a delightful dish.

    Another trip I ordered a soup and sandwich and the soup again came out cold, but with great FLAVOR. The sandwich was great, bread soft and the beef was julienned like the veggies.

    The pizza was VERY good and hot.

    Overall, I’m still keeping this place on our list, hoping that they’ll read suggestions on bring out the food HOT (unless it’s a salad). It’s not too far from being a winner… instead of just missing.

    The overall menu is very ambitious and so far, the ingredient list would justify the cost.

    [Thanks for the detailed posting, OP. -- DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    Try their garlic fries. They’re the best item I consistently get. They are also good for breakfast, and the prices are reasonable for that meal.

    [No wonder breakfast is the most important meal of the day: Garlic fries. -- DA]

  • THE CLOSET CHEF

    My wife and I have been a steady customer of Bistro Roti and Expresso Yourself since they opened. Yes there are a few items on the menu that need tweaking, personal taste aside, but for the most part the other items are excellent. Some dinners are a bit pricey, but the chef is a stickler for quality in his food. Overall it comes down to the old adage “you get what you pay for,” and for a once a month dinner spot, it fills the bill.

  • Rick and Janelle von Kleist

    Janelle and I frequent the Bistro about once a week and enjoy the great wine and pleasant service. The hamburgers are really great! Our daughter Mackenzie always orders the lobster ravioli, which is the best I have ever had. Janelle’s book club meets there once a month and all the ladies enjoy the cozy and friendly service.