Don't you just miss having some decent, affordable and tasty French meal with no sophistication and pretension? I just found it for you. Achrafieh welcomes a new neighborhood restaurant, Au Bistrot de Michel, which offers traditional French cuisine in a nice cozy place.
Michel Madi, owner and manager of the place has developed the menu with help from his Chef Hussein Sleiman, offering specialties like the goat cheese salad and figs, the Black Angus beef and steak tartare and sumptuous desserts like the Chocolate Cake Cedric, a family recipe and Apple Crumble and more so a wine list that showcases twenty French castles ready for all budgets...
The Bistrot de Michel welcomes guests from Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. The place seats 38 people between inside and the terrace, spread over an area of 90m2.
Not located in a busy neighborhood, Michel's place has a calm feel reflecting the real French tradition of a "Bistrot de Quartier" or a neighborhood restaurant. Michel does it all making you feel at home. Arriving at 9pm, he welcomed us at the door before showing us to our table. He then continued with an explanation of the menu and its different creations. He made sure we know that they use Australian meat, that the seafood pasta is mixed with a red sauce and is rich in seafood and that we can choose three different sauces for the meat of which the wine shives is a recommended. The steak frites is served with fries and a green salad.
- A one door place located in the heart of Achrafieh behind bank Byblos Headquarters
- Red curtains protects the restaurants from strong sunny spells during day time, as well as hides the black wood supporting glass doors.
- Two black boards display the menu and specials
- Inside, a cozy place with white ceiling and light wood parquet
- A bar at the end of the restaurant displays the wine collection
- A long mirror to the left makes the place look bigger supported by a long brown bench under it
- To the right a beautiful design wallpaper is decorated with two Parisian style paintings
- Three pending burgundy lanterns pend over the tables
- Over the bar, a basket of flowers adds a touch of finesse
- Dark wood tables surrounded by brown chairs and decorated with nylon beige placemats, white plates and a tissue napkins
- In the middle a Peugeot pepper mill and a salt dispenser
Good to know:
- The restaurant opens for lunch and dinner
- It can host up to 30 persons and can be booked foe your private gatherings
- The bill is very reasonable with a $35/person check including starters, main dish and dessert
- Plats du jour are changed everyday and are all French choices
- Bread is homemade and provided by my favorite: The French Bakery
Dinner started with a basket of warm white crispy bread served with crushed olives and a bottle of olive oil. Tasty and good first impression. The bread deserves a minute: A thin crust filled with a light filling where the quantity of yeast is dosed adequately making it soft and tender melting under your teeth like butter.
The menu sections:
- Plats du jour
- Nos salades
- Nos plats
- Nos accompagnements
- Nos douceurs
- Nos boissons
- Salade Fromage de Chevre Chaud (Fromage de chevre, mesclin de salades, figue, sauce sucree): The Goat cheese salad might be a simple thing to do but at Michel's things are different. Goat cheese is cooked meticulously on a thin slice of bread creating a crunchy/soft warm bite enjoyed with a smile. Adding to that, four super thin green apple slices and to add the fine touch that make of it a unique creation are some fig jams cut in half. The freshness and beautiful colors of this salad are mouthwatering.
- Salade Paysanne (Foie de volaille, gesiers, osuf dur, sauce balsamique) I personally never imagined a chicken liver salad, but this one is really interesting. Served with eggs, tomatoes and lettuce, I felt like I was eating a creative mix of French and Lebanese in a plate. A cold salad seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil, topped with warm chicken liver on top. Each bite is unique. I would have put the liver pieces at the bottom of the plate to give them time to absorb the sauce and become juicier. An overall tasty mix I would recommend you mix before eating.
- Salade Endives au Roquefort (Endives, roquefort, noix, pommes, sauce roquefort). Imagine: Crispy fresh non bitter endives, soft and full of flavor blue cheese, crunchy walnuts, white sweet green apples and some cherry tomatoes on top for decoration. Rich and really superb, this salad is not as simple as you might imagine. It will wow you.
Dinner continued after a small break into the main course. Plates were changed into bigger ones as well as the cutlery and special meat knives by YYD.
Dinner was exquisite:
- Steak Frites (servi avec frites) Michel's steak-frites is different from all the others in town that are served in small slices soaked in L'entrecote de Paris sauce. This steak is premium in quality and the sauce, yum... incredibly delicious.
- Foie de Volaille au Porto (Foie de volaille, creme, porto): This was my personal choice and I admit that I was surprised. The chicken liver plate with its strong peppery flavor is as well a unique dish which I loved. Even though salty today, I finished it completely. I would recommend you try the Chicken liver plate's sauce with the meat: It is exquisite.
- Calamare Sauce Meuniere (Calamars poeles, capres, citron, guile, salad, tomates): To start with, the calamari plate is nice to look at. Small pieces served in a generous plate and mixed with capers. Bravo!
- Club Sandwich (Poulet, fromage cheddar, tomate, laitue): The club sandwich is correct. A good choice to order at lunch but maybe a mistake from our side to order it at night. As a French bistro I would have presented it differently. It looks cheap. A salad or fries on the side maybe?
Would a dinner be complete without some good rich dessert?
- Creme Brûlée: Warm, light, adequately sweet, crunchy on top. Yum!
- Moelleux Chocolat de Cedrik: WOW. Bravo, bravo, bravo. It's worth visiting Michel just for this cake. A cake homogeneously soft like butter around it all and tastes like chocolate truffles. I think the photo below is enough to make you want to try it
- Fondant Menthe Chocolat: Mint chocolate cake with a strong mint aroma and flavor served with ice cream on top. As you bite into it, the mint aromas travel along your nostrils as the chocolate caresses your taste buds. An after crunch of the cooked almonds will just make you smile
- Tarte aux Pommes: The apple tart looks good and tastes very good. I enjoyed the grilled cut almonds on top
- Michel is a professional person and acts like one - making sure things are done perfectly. For example, he makes sure the waiter is serving adequate quantity of water and wine in the cups...
- A waiter helps Michel in a synchronized way
The improvements I'll make:
- A salt mill will look much better next to the pepper one
- I'll propose a choice of brown and white bread to start
- A table napkin, in a French restaurant is a must
- Play music without an unpleasant background base
- I would add to the menu a meat dish using premium Angus with the chicken liver sauce
I can't say it more... Bravo, Bravo, Bravo! I was positively surprised by tonight's dinner and encourage you all to try it. Michel's simple and affordable dishes are prepared to perfection with passion and love.