Restaurant Review - Pinole’s Pear Street Bistro - A Restaurant for all Reasons!
By Vickie Lewis
Are you looking for a place to enjoy fine dining after a long work week without having to drive into Oakland or San Francisco? Or maybe you’re looking for a place to grab a healthy and hearty meal during that short, yet coveted lunch break. Perhaps you want to enjoy a drink with a few friends and watch the latest sporting event on TV, or simply gather with coworkers or friends in a casual atmosphere. Do you enjoy going out for a leisurely brunch on the weekends? Or, are you planning a special occasion, such as a birthday party, a wedding or bridal shower, or a retirement celebration? Whatever the occasion or whatever you’re looking for, Pear Street Bistro can accommodate your needs. It is truly a restaurant for all reasons!
Contra Costa Marketplace Magazine featured Pear Street Bistro in February 2016, soon after its grand re-opening following a kitchen fire that had closed the restaurant for fifteen months. Francisco Flores, who assumed ownership of PSB from the original owner, Gary Wong, four years prior to the fire, has done a remarkable job of re-establishing his restaurant as the “go to” place in Pinole. In fact, this very desirable restaurant is frequented by customers from all over the bay area who come for delicious meals, excellent drinks, and the frequent musical entertainment and special events hosted by Francisco and his staff. PSB features a full, spacious bar and lounge with plenty of tables; televisions for sports viewing, and a large media wall. The elegant dining room boasts beautiful chandeliers and marble topped tables, and there is an extended dining area that can be closed off for private events and banquets. Pear Street Bistro’s versatile layout makes it a perfect venue for all occasions.
Entertainment is an important feature that helps set Pear Street Bistro apart from other local dining establishments. On the second and last Tuesdays of each month, guests enjoy live musical entertainment to accompany their meals. The lively music of a Latin Jazz/Salsa Band complements the “Taco Tuesday” dinner special and is featured from 6 PM – 9 PM. Similarly, on the second and last Saturdays of each month, diners delight to the sounds of live jazz music from 7 PM to 10 PM. Musical evenings tend to be very popular with patrons, so reservations are highly encouraged. These can be arranged by calling PSB directly, or via Yelp reservations available on the PSB website.
In addition to the bi-monthly musical entertainment evenings, the City of Pinole provided approval for Pear Street Bistro to host up to twelve special events per year to coincide with holidays or other special occasions. These events are typically hosted on the weekend of the holiday or festivity and begin at 10:00 PM and continue until 1:30 AM. There is no cover charge for attendance, and events are limited to those age 21 and over. (Please Note: security is provided.) The events feature music by one of several preferred DJ’s, and the tables in the main dining room are moved to allow for dancing. Special cocktail menus are typically available for these events, and there are often promos and giveaways. Limited table seating is available and is reserved for those who pre-arrange for bottle service during the evening. Recent special events include Santa Con in December, PSB’s 18th Anniversary Celebration in January, St. Patrick’s Day and an Easter celebration. Watch for information about PSB’s special events on Instagram or Facebook or call the restaurant for more details. You can also sign up to receive PSB’s newsletter via their website, which will provide you with information about upcoming events.
For those who are artistically inclined, Pear Street Bistro continues to offer Paint Night on the last Monday of each month at 7:00 PM. This popular event has been ongoing for the past couple of years, and still draws maximum capacity at nearly every event. The rear dining area is transformed into an art studio for aspiring painters to test their skills at creating the latest artwork selection. Sponsored by Let’s Paint of the Bay Area, the cost for the painting experience and materials is still a nominal $25. Reservations for Paint Night may be arranged at Squareup.com/store/lets-paint-bay-area.
As described, there are many great things happening at Pear Street Bistro, but nothing tops the quality of the food, drinks, and customer service! My family is one of many who regularly frequents Pear Street Bistro, whether to celebrate a special occasion, or just for an impromptu evening out. It is also one of my favorite venues for meeting up with friends, and on several occasions, my coworkers and I chose PSB for afternoon team-building events during Happy Hour! The casual, yet elegant atmosphere is comfortable, and there is a happy and vibrant energy that exudes from the staff and the customers. The open kitchen affords diners the opportunity to watch as food is prepared, and it is inspiring to watch the teamwork and camaraderie between the kitchen staff and the wait staff. Although there is no booth seating, the dining experience feels private, allowing for undisturbed casual conversation--yet there is an exciting and stimulating vibe that emanates from the dining room and bar. Plenty of attentive servers, and usually one or two managers, continually make the rounds in the dining room to tend to customers’ needs. My family has never been disappointed with our meals or our drinks, and we’ve almost always experienced excellent service—in fact, some of the staff members feel almost like family!
During this visit, my guest and I chose to try some of our favorite food and drinks as well as some we’d never tried before. We started with drink selections, and my guest ordered her favorite cocktail, the Champagne Margarita, which is a huge margarita-filled goblet, infused with an upside-down split bottle of Korbel champagne. This drink alone is $17, but it is worth every penny if you like champagne and margaritas! I opted for one of the new cocktails named the “Pineapple Me.” This drink is one of several new drinks on the menu featuring hand-selected Patron tequila, mixed with pineapple juice and agave nectar. It is served in an agave Tiki mug with a Tajin pineapple garnish. The drinks here are always very good and are usually very strong, and the Pineapple Me did not disappoint.
A specialty that sets PSB’s bar apart from others is the availability of several hand-selected liquors. Francisco personally travels to locations where these liquors are made, and hand selects liquors for PSB that have the best taste and appeal. Those selected undergo an extra aging process to enhance the flavors before being bottled and labeled exclusively for Pear Street Bistro. The hand-selected spirits include:
• Jack Daniels Single Barrel Whiskey from Tennessee
• Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum from Barbados
• Woodford Reserve Personal Selection Bourbon from Kentucky
• Herradura Double Barrel Reposado 100% Blue Agave Tequila from Mexico
•Patron Reposado Tequila from Mexico (recently added!)
Customers can order “The Barrel Flight” and sample each of these hand selected liquors for only $17.00. An extensive drink menu features cocktails crafted using these and other popular brands of alcohol. In addition to standard drinks, you’ll find interesting and unusual recipes, many of which have been personally created and named by either Francisco or Luis, the bar manager. Add to these a separate beer and wine menu, and there is nearly an unlimited selection of libations from which to select for your enjoyment. PSB also offers Happy Hour daily from 3 PM to 7 PM (except holidays) in the lounge only, featuring a menu with special drink and appetizer selections. For those who can’t visit during Happy Hour, there is a $6 daily drink special that is available to customers all day.
The dinner menu at PSB has an extensive list of starters, including soup, salads and over fifteen appetizers suitable for sharing, priced from $6 to $20. Some of my favorites are the Bruschetta, Mini Asian BBQ Pork Shanks, and “Cheese Please.” My guest and I opted to try one starter we’d never tried before and one of our favorites. The new item for us was the Bistro Fondue, which is served with crab or shrimp, white cheddar cheese, spinach, and toasted bread for dipping. The second item we ordered was the Bistro Nachos, made with sautéed prawns, top sirloin steak, a mix of three melted cheeses, fresh pico de gallo, homemade corn chips and topped with sour cream. The shrimp Bistro Fondue arrived first--a piping hot bowl of thick cheesy sauce with small pieces of spinach mixed in. The fondue was served with four long wedges of toasted sourdough bread with butter and garlic seasoning. The fondue was loaded with baby shrimp and the cheese sauce was wonderfully rich! We eagerly spooned it onto the bread and enjoyed the excellent taste. The nachos were delivered as we were finishing the fondue, and the plate was large and heaping with the homemade corn chips and the toppings. This starter could indeed be a meal by itself because it is so large and could easily be shared by 3 or 4 people.
Although the appetizers had quelled our hunger, we were eager to place our dinner orders. The dinner menu, which doubles as a paper placemat for your meal, has remained relatively static for the last couple of years; however, guests can always count on there being one or more daily specials for lunch, brunch, or dinner. Some of the dinner specials are available weekly, such as Wednesday’s ½ pound Prime Rib with all the fixin’s, and Thursday’s Bistro Paella. Other specials vary week-to-week, and all are created exclusively by Chef Carlos and his talented kitchen staff. Information on the daily specials can be found on Facebook or Instagram, or by calling the restaurant.
My guest ordered the Lomo Saltado, her favorite selection from the menu, and I ordered the Thai Coconut Curry Linguini with Prawns, an entrée I hadn’t tried before. When the meals arrived, both were large portions that were beautifully presented, and were steaming hot such that we had to allow them to cool before we could start eating. The Lomo Saltado, which is typically made with top sirloin strips, had been prepared instead with chicken, by request. The chicken (or steak) is stir fried with onions and tomatoes in a special Peruvian sauce and served atop steamed white rice and pommes frites (fries). My guest said that she enjoyed the Lomo Saltado prepared with the chicken rather than the steak and highly recommends this entrée to those who haven’t tried it. The Thai Coconut linguini was made with mushrooms, caramelized red onions, bell peppers, and shaved ginger in a creamy Thai coconut curry sauce, and was served with seven large, plump prawns. (This entrée is also available with chicken instead of prawns.) When I first tasted the sauce, I was expecting a different flavor based on other Thai dishes that I’ve eaten. As I continued eating, it occurred to me that the difference in the flavor was likely due to the curry. As I enjoyed the tender fettuccini noodles and the delicious prawns, I realized that this entrée had an unanticipated level of spiciness to it. I enjoyed the entrée despite the spiciness, and when I ate the leftovers the following day, I found them to be less spicy. Overall, the Thai Coconut Curry Linguini was a good choice for me, but I’ll likely resort to my favorite entrees upon future visits to PSB.
Our wonderful server for the evening, Grae, later brought us the dessert menu to peruse. Since we’d tried most of the desserts on the menu before, we were going to pass; but then Grae told us about a new, not-yet-on-the-menu Passion Fruit Lemon Cake with Espresso Cream and Coconut flakes. We decided to share one piece of the cake, and I ordered a cup of coffee to accompany the dessert. My guest ordered an Espresso Martini, as she’d always wanted to try it. The plated presentation of the dessert with caramel drizzle and powdered sugar was very pretty, and while the cake was delicious, it was a bit difficult to discern the espresso cream and lemon flavors. The Espresso Martini, which I also sipped, was creamy, rich, and flavorful and quite enjoyable for an after dinner “dessert”.
I highly recommend visiting Pear Street Bistro for your next dining and/or drinking adventure! Whether it’s for lunch, brunch, dinner, or just appetizers and drinks during Happy Hour or the Late-Night Lounge, you won’t be disappointed. It is great to have a local, versatile venue that offers so many options to the community it serves. PSB also gives back to the community by hosting charitable fundraisers every three months wherein a portion of the day’s sales are contributed to the organization supported. Contact Francisco if you would like to suggest a charity for consideration. And, if you’re looking for a convenient and spacious location for a special celebration, check out the private room available for such occasions. Our server, Grae, who is also an Assistant Manager and Event Coordinator for PSB, will happily help you plan your event. Contact Grae@pearstreetbistro.com for more information. The staff at PSB is a team of happy people who strive to deliver the ultimate service experience to guests. I hope to see you there very soon!
510.741.8875 | 2395 San Pablo Avenue, Pinole | pearstreetbistro.com
Facebook & Instagram: @PearStreetPinole | Order online: Doordash, ChowNow
Banquet/Private Event Info: Contact email@example.com
Mon–Thurs: 11 AM–9 PM | Fri & Sat: 11 AM–10 PM | Sun: 10 AM–9 PM