Au Petit Bistro: Tiny French Dining Spot in Mohandiseen
8 Abdel Rahman El Rafie
Tanya El Kashef
Located on an inconspicuous restaurant
street just off of Thawra Street in Mohandiseen, Au Petit Bistro is a small and
cosy restaurant that’s easily spottable next to the blue signage of Melouk Bar next door.
The dining venue is quite small but doesn’t
feel cramped. Simple white-clothed tables with wooden chairs, cool lighting and
chunky wood accents make up most of the interior. While the simplicity of the
furniture is appreciated, not much more is needed by any means; the lighting
took away from the ambiance rather than added to it. Candles on the table would go a long way in
setting the right atmosphere.
Once seated, hand towels were brought to
the table in what looked like shot glasses. We were also served bread with a
tasty olive tapenade, and the batch was quickly replenished as soon as it was finished.
Interestingly, a breadbasket with butter was served before the appetisers
arrived, and before the second batch of tapenade was finished. Although it was
fresh and warm (and enjoyable), the breadbasket was out of place.
On a traditionally French menu, appetisers include
escargots, quiche Lorraine and foie gras with prices ranging from 35LE to 129LE
a dish. The foie gras is served with chutney of some kind and was very good,
though served a little too fresh from the fridge. The classic French onion soup was also good but the shape of the dish was almost flat as opposed to the
customary deep bowl, and there was simply too much cheese and bread but not
Main courses range in beef fillets, lamb
dishes and seafood from 80LE to over 150LE. The selected main courses were a
flambéed beef fillet with Dauphinoise potatoes and pepper sauce, and beef
fillet with foie gras, Medeira sauce and hazelnut potatoes. The flambéed fillet
was good but nothing special, while the potatoes were a bit on the rich side.
The fillet with the foie gras was excellent:
the liver was seasoned deliciously and had a nutty taste, while the small,
rounded potatoes were perfectly crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside
– they melted in well with the jus. Sadly, the meat was overcooked and notably
so. This came after being asked perhaps five times over a span of 20 minutes as
to how the fillet should be cooked.
It would seem unfair to extensively comment
on the service and its shortcomings, seeing as – in this reviewer’s opinion – customer service in Cairo is often
disappointing. So forget the overzealous bread serving, or the
delay in menu setting or even the awkward tableside manners; but when a server
still cannot remember an accurate order (at least after asking the third time), that
is something that needs fixing.
The pavlova for dessert was disappointing.
The homemade meringue was hard and too sweet; the fruit was lacking juice and
lustre – unfortunately, not a single strawberry was to be found. The ice cream
was the nicest part but it was served in a tiny portion. Most of the
desserts were in the range of 30LE.
Overall, Au Petit Bistro is certainly a
recommendable dining spot, but at over 600LE for a dinner for two, we’d have
preferred more care for the ingredients and more consistency in cooking and
presenting the dishes. These mishaps in presentation take away from the
experience, and as anyone knows, half of the enjoyment in dining is in its