We tend to picture bistros as wintry and masculine. Departing from such clichés, however, Bistro Madame is reinventing the genre in a way that is fresh and light. Perfect for sunny days.
Bistro fare is typically gargantuan. Full of meaty clichés that are reminiscent of La Grande Bouffe (“Blow-Out”), it has its share of iconic dishes, from pig’s trotter croquettes to Morteau sausage swimming in lentils. In other words, all the things we love. That said, we equally appreciate when the genre explores other horizons. Bistro Madame does just that, combining Southern alchemy and exquisite skill.
The duo responsible for the place have already made names for themselves in Brussels, one for her work at Le Petit Canon, a well-known snack bar, and the other for showing talent as the sous-chef at Kitchen 151, a place influenced by new-generation Israeli cuisine. With references like that, needless to say, we were feeling pretty confident when we stepped inside this little neighbourhood restaurant. The decor is unpretentious, with bottle-green walls, wooden furniture, and a pretty granite counter. The atmosphere is ideal for customers who love good food but don’t necessarily want to broadcast their tastes to the entire world. If you’re into food porn, showing off, and egotistical self-celebration, this place is not for you.
Spring on a plate
The service is efficient and friendly, setting the right tone for a pleasantly simple menu, which is set out on a board with three starters and as many main courses and desserts. Big eaters, like us, can whet their appetite with an amuse-bouche of clam stir-fry (€8) with plenty of garlic and cherry tomatoes. We chose a refreshing starter of courgette soup (€12). Full of complementary flavours – green asparagus, pine nuts, basil, hazelnut oil, and crunchy peas – it was like a caress on the palette.
Inspired by this freshness and market-garden appeal, we chose a similarly vegetable-based main course: a fresh risotto, raw tomato coulis, crisp vegetables, and fresh herbs (€16). Spot on! The dish was the epitome of springtime, bursting with colours and flavours. In the same spirit, dessert was extremely sumptuous – vanilla ice cream served with crumbled crunchy biscuit and Amaretto (€8) – and there is a selection of well-chosen natural wines, such as the fantastic sparkling natural Spontané Rosé for €38. We left the table feeling light and enchanted.