Dining at Bistrot is like visiting an old friend. Photos Lucky 8.
BISTROT on Jl. Oberoi is remarkable in some aspects and yet it fits like a favourite shirt . . . the kind of place you can revisit over and over.
What is truly unique is the interior. Designed by owners, Zohra and Blaise, who now have a chain of interiors stores and villas, including Balquisse Living on Sunset Road, it is an incredible rendition of French boudoir meets shabby chic.
The two-storey space with a mezzanine bar and lounge is a treasure trove of collectibles from their incredible array of lights and lanterns, furnishings, bric-a-brac, artworks, mirrors, and antiques, both old and new. Rendered brick and glass, the shell is pared back and industrial and the perfect showplace for the collection. It also manages to be intimate despite the size and boasts my absolute favourite bathrooms in Oberoi Road.
The concept behind the food is French bistro, classic and appealing with the emphasis on good ingredients, handled with respect; classic recipes that remain favourites. You will find steak tartar and a perfect rib eye with bernaise; you’ll find scallops and roasted chicken, classic French style salads and soups and very French desserts like crepes suzette and iles de floatante – not flashy, yet lovely all the same. A few Asian classics are thrown in as well, including a rich red curry and a green Thai-style curry.
The prices are moderate making it an easy choice for the many regulars who swan in and out, making it a second home of sorts. It has that feeling.
In keeping with the Bistrot philosophy, we chose two French classics for lunch; a crisp duck confit served with mashed potato and ratatouille; and a black sole meuniere served with a traditional brown butter sauce, baby potatoes and a green salad.
We dined in one of our favourite velvet booths upstairs, where smoking is allowed. We drank a smooth shiraz from Frankland, perfect tucked away on the smoky-coloured mezzanine. Fortunately we had commitments in the afternoon, as the urge to linger was almost irresistible.
Not before we tried dessert though. Temptation got the better of us so we chose crepes suzette, two folded crepes in a bitter orange sauce and an artful tarte tartin which featured a disc of tender apple atop a round of puff pastry, all draped in a dreamy caramel. Luscious and decidedly wicked.
Bistrot is perfectly suited to long lunches or leisurely dinners, after-dinner cocktails or just a quick café lunch on the trot.
The upstairs bar is a perfect hideaway, surrounded by velvet sofas, the bartenders are quick with a cocktail, a nice wine by the glass or a frosty beer. There is no pretention, which is the appeal. It has the hallmarks of a private meeting place on Oberoi, away from the madding crowds.
Former chefs have come and gone and now the long-time sous chef is in charge of the kitchen and turning out the classics like a pro. The kitchen overlooks the downstairs dining room and is a hive of activity, providing an entertaining flow during service.
General Manager Yassin is Swiss Morrocan, a friendly face with some serious experience in bistros in Paris, lending an authentic geniality to Bistrot. Well-worn and personal items dot the two levels while a great collection of music has been compiled from owner Blaise’ personal collection.
There is something very personal about Bistrot and while the light fades behind the lead light windows, a warm glow is cast by a multitude of lamps and lunch fades into dinner. Bistrot remains open, welcoming and familiar. S.D.