What Is a Bistro ‐ Café?
The atmosphere of the bistro-cafe is informal and relaxed. A traditional bistro is a place where you can get a quick bit to eat or relax and chat over coffee when you have finished your meal. Over the past few years, bistros have become very popular and now many more formal restaurants offer a bistro-style menu, particularly at lunch time.
Bistro-cafes originate form Paris where they are still very popular for serving small and inexpensive meals in a casual atmosphere. It is believed that they developed from the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where landlords supplemented their income by selling food to the public. The original bistro-cafe menus were based on slow-cooked, braised food that could be prepared in large quantities and provided simple, wholesome fare.
According to legend, the term bistro originates form the Russian occupation of France and derives from the Russian word “bistro” meaning quickly. The story tells how Russian Cossacks would yell the word to the French servers to hurry them up.
Bistro-cafe dining is a unique and pleasurable experience. A classic bistro-cafe is usually family owned and offers a simple menu in an informal setting. One the menu you are likely to find healthy and creative version of simple French dishes including crepes, vegetable soups, omelets, sandwiches, salads and sometimes steaks and simple seafood platters. Because the meals are simple the service is usually pretty quick, so you won’t be expecting to wait long, which is great if you are in something of a hurry. The dishes are usually made with fresh ingredients that have been produced locally. There is usually also a small selection of wine and beer. A bistro-cafe will generally serve everything on the menu all day long rather than having separate lunch and dinner items.
Some bistros have themes to their menu. For example, as well as French bistros you will also find Chinese bistros as well as Spanish, German and pan-American. Some bistros also offer food to take out or even a home delivery service. Whatever your taste in food, bistros are great places to have an informal business dinner or simply meet friends to chat over lunch.