A calm oasis in the midst of chaotic Dhaka
While most “bistros” in Bangladesh aren’t quite bistros in the traditional sense, one place, Bistro E, is exactly what it claims to be
Ever wondered what the difference between a bistro, cafe and brasserie is? Briefly explained, a cafe is a coffee house, a brasserie is more of a brewery and a bistro is a quick service restaurant – a classical version of fast food. While most “bistros” in Bangladesh aren’t quite bistros in the traditional sense, one place, Bistro E, is exactly what it claims to be.
For the past eight years, this place inside Bay Edgewater has been serving up some of the best salads, burgers and steaks expertly curated by Executive Chef Abdullah Tareq. While bistros are supposed to serve French cuisine, it’s not exactly a hot ticket in Bangladesh.
“Although we use French techniques, the dishes are mostly Mediterranean as the Bangladeshi customer base isn’t really drawn to French cuisine itself,”
– Abdullah Tareq, Executive Chef.
With an eclectic range of delicately textured pastas to traditional gyro platters, the menu is definitely a nod to Mediterranean and fusion dishes. The restaurant enjoys a loyal customer base, mostly comprising embassy officials. From its ambience, to a friendly and trained staff, Bistro E is an oasis in the midst of chaotic Dhaka.
The automated lift opens to a well-secured brightly lit floor.
The hallway is illuminated by white lighting which leads you to the entrance that begets a sense of sumptuous comfort as the lights get warmer. The lounge area is also fitted with white lighting which helps to bring out the contrast between the vibrant colors of the décor that livens your spirits, and contains different modern variations of blues, dark and light brown couches. The walls are full of modern artthat lends an aura of a small art gallery.
The dining area has one long communal table flanked by booths on both sides. The sleek modern furniture and overall hue leaves Bistro-E’s customers with a taste of subtle luxury, making it a regular spot for sociable work.
Among the flurry of dishes that kept coming out of the kitchen, there were harissa mushroom starters – that had sautéed button and oyster mushrooms marinated in harissa. It is a hot chili pepper paste, and minced garlic. The spice starts kicking in after the first bite of the mushroom that keeps your taste buds tingling for more.
Then there was Bistro E’s mezze platter that included mutton keftas, a tangy hummus, a side of crispy French Fries, and a soft
and light pita bread, served on a wooden platter. The Keftas are Moroccan-style kebabs which, although lacking in seasoned spices, contain the charred flavour that you crave for in Mediterranean kebabs. While the taste of the Kefta is bland, the Hummus, which was an exceptionally well-blended mix of chickpeas, lemon garlic, tahini, olive oil, and paprika garnish, is a true redeemer and a delectable experience.
Among the salads, the Couscous salad with chicken has fresh seasonal greens, cucumber, tomatoes, couscous, and harrisa dressing. A single bite of this dish includes a flavourful ensemble of spicy grilled chicken thigh and couscous will leave you wanting more and more.
Who knew the humble chicken could be this delicious when cooked
right. The fresh vegetables are plated to perfection, and it is a mouth-watering fusion of all the flavours coming together to create a vibrant of flourishing red and green vegetables on a bed of enjoyable couscous.
Among their hefty mains, the tomato-based Pomodore Chicken pasta is a glimpse of Italian food amongst a bastion of Mediterranean feast and serves as the show-stopper. The fettuccine mixes well the chicken and button mushrooms, while the tomato sauce brings out a boisterous mix of sweet, sour and spicy flavours. The pasta is finally garnished with chopped parsley to add a slight bitterness, making the overall dish lip-smacking good.
The seafood basket includes their crunchy fried prawns coupled with salty squids and battered golden flecks of dory fish complemented by a side of tartar sauce. As appetizing as the basket is to your eyes, there’s really such a thing as too much fried food, as you stop tasting the difference between each individual fish item at one point. But the Dory fish with the sweet and savory tartare sauce will win you over in a heartbeat.
The zucchini and eggplant sandwich is a signature vegetarian dish which is a satisfying meal. The healthy brown-bread highlights the extraordinary use of mozzarella cheese to add a buttery layer to the zucchini-eggplant sandwich. The vegetarian delight also has sautéed onions, gherkins, boiled eggs, melted mozzarella, and the rich Harissa aioli sauce. The meatless sandwich works like a charm even if you’re not a vegetarian.
Among a variety of specialties, the Yogurt Pot is a three-layered dessert that is a combination of fruit compote, vanilla yogurt and granola drizzled with honey. The sweetened curd is mixed with meshed strawberry to give a sweet and sour taste for every mouthful. This sweet course is served in an elegant dessert cup.
The Double Chocolate Brownie and Ice cream is a classic marriage between confectionary and frozen sweet. The strong smell of the cocoa powder will engulf your senses as soon as the luscious dish is served. The contrast of the hot double chocolate, and the cold ice-cream layered atop dually emphasizes the sweet yet bitter taste of dark chocolate. The price for a meal at Bistro E ranges from Tk550 to Tk2,500.
The eight-year old bistro has not escaped the aftermath of both a pandemic and an inflation hike. They had to shut down after the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020.
“We were closed for the first three months, and re-opened in July for takeaways and home deliveries only,”
– Shamim Sharif, Operation Manager.
Although a slow start, Sharif explains how the customer influx has been decent since they reopened for dine-ins from September 2020, and how they always had more dine-ins than deliveries. “We’re usually busy for both lunch and dinner. There have always been more dine-ins.” Inflation hikes in the country has led to the decision of redesigning the menu.
“To keep up with the increasing expenses,
a change of prices and a complete overhaul
of the menu is necessary”
– Abdullah Tareq, Executive Chef
“The prices for the ingredients have gone up. We’re likely to redesign our menu in two weeks, add a few specialties, and take out a few of our slow items,” he said. To maintain its high quality, the restaurant is heavily dependent on imported ingredients, which is costing them more than their financial limits can allow. “Tariffs have gone up, it’s a little messy right now. Prices might go up around 15%”, he added.
Despite the price range, Bistro offers a delightful menu, and an unforgettable ambience. Once you, the perfect blend of good food and soothing ambiance will keep drawing you back. There is nothing like being at Bistro E on a rainy day eating a warm delicious meal while watching the world go by. Did we mention they only play jazz too? The good kind as well. What else could you ask for? Don’t take our word for it, go and see for yourself.