Happy anniversary Pistache

Happy three-year anniversary, Pistache (pronounced like the nut).

I spent a few hours Saturday with some friends at Pistache’s third anniversary celebration. The place was jammed with lots of regulars and locals celebrating one of Clematis Street’s best restaurants.

After working out a few kinks over the past few years, the place has turned out to be a real gem for a number of reasons — good food, atmosphere, service, location and fun.

Located at the eastern-most end of Clematis Street, it resembles a French bistro in design, with a lovely outdoor dining terrace overlooking the city’s new waterfront park.

Pistache features a quasi-open floor plan with a beautiful bar and an adjacent lounge/dining area with large high-top tables that offer a good view for people watching. The adjoining open and airy dining room consists of closely placed tables and a wall of glass doors, which are usually open (weather permitting), offering a view of the terrace and street.

The bar, which offers a two-for-one happy hour daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., tends to be busier later in the week and on weekends, attracting a bit of an older crowd. (Just look next-door at the World of Beer crowd. You will understand my basis for comparison.)

The menu is full of lots of great choices typical of a traditional French bistro. I recommend the les frites mariniere (mussels and French fries), one of their most popular dishes. Another delicious choice is the grilled chicken pillard, served on a bed of fresh arugula with freshly shaved parmesan cheese. If you’re craving steak, the au poivre is always a great pick (just ask BizPac CEO and steak connoisseur Jack Furnari, who is very fussy about where he eats). For pure decadence, try the truffle mac-and-cheese side dish.

Every meal at Pistache is served with the most amazing French bread. The dough is imported from (you guessed it) France and baked fresh daily. What is not commonly known is that you can buy it to go.

I spoke with Chef Julien Gremaud, a 31-year-old accomplished chef born in St. Tropez, France. He started working in the restaurant business at the age of 18, he said, and spent a number of years travelling and working at restaurants in cities like London and Chicago. Prior to joining Pistache more than two years ago, he was a private chef for a wealthy family.

Chef Gremaud said he changes the menu four times a year to be reflective of the seasons and offers daily specials featuring two appetizers and entrees that are never repeated twice, allowing him an opportunity to be innovative and creative while using fresh, local ingredients.

Pistache also has a lovely dessert menu of some homemade, yummy “petite-sized” pastries that are wonderful and less guilt-inducing.

Some inside scoop:  The restaurant offers a discretionary “supper club” membership card that allows members to dine at 50 percent off all menu items Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 p.m. to closing.

Appetizers are priced between $8.75 and $24.  Entrees range from $17 to $29. Pistache is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and the restaurant also offers a special brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Saturday night, I spoke with a few of the regulars, including Zack Von Gonteen, a Palm Beacher who said, “the food’s fantastic, great steaks and seafood dishes.” He also likes that after dinner, he can relax at the bar, enjoy the scene and talk to the some of the regulars.

For a fine dining experience on a street known for its casual dining establishments and nightclubs, this is the place to go. While you’re there, say hello to a few of the locals, like Zack or Clematis Street Charlie, a retired Delta Airline pilot who usually sports a Panama Jack hat.

For more information, visit www.pistachewpb.com.

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