IF good writing avoids clichés ‘like the plague,’ then surely the same can be said of fine dining. This, at least, is what the owners of the recently opened Le Bistro French Restaurant in Hua Hin hope to prove – hitting home the point through a carefully considered one-page menu that doesn’t have a French onion soup in sight.
Let’s face it, French onion soup is the equivalent of Italy’s pizza and England’s bangers and mash – a culinary cliché served simply because that’s what diners expect to find in a French restaurant. Yes, it can be delicious, but apart from the toil put in to extract fresh onions from the earth, it’s hardly ground-breaking.
So what does Le Bistro offer in its place? Something exciting, something new, something unique to Hua Hin (and possibly Thailand): “Onion tart tartin, juniper (B250).”
Turning what’s usually a French dessert (tart tartin is basically an upside down tart with the filling, usually fruit, exposed on top) into an onion topped appetizer, this creation still manages to be classic French cuisine while not being your typical French dish.
“Our aim is to surprise our guests with just how delicious and exciting simple French food can be,” says restaurant manager and chef Romain Alétu, who has over 20 years’ experience cooking French cuisine in his native France and, prior to moving to Hua Hin last November, in Tahiti. “So we offer dishes such as the tart tartin, which is earthy and delicious and not found elsewhere; and even our Duck leg confit cottage pie, black truffle oil takes a familiar dish and gives it a different spin, seeing us remove the leg’s fat and bone prior to cooking so the skin has a crispy texture which pairs wonderfully with a creamy mash, almost purée in consistency.”
Located in the premises which formerly housed Peppino Italian Restaurant, Le Bistro is smart, stylish and welcoming. Floor to ceiling windows provide views of the outdoor terrace and street, while several black-and-white photographs dotted around the restaurant’s white-washed walls offer windows into life in Paris – river scenes, historic buildings, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. At the back of the premises, a bar stocked with top French wines and rare cognacs is one focal point; an open kitchen with chefs hard at work another.
Owned in partnership with Hua Hin Restaurant veterans Peter Kirketerp (of Mondo Vino) and Andreas Bonifacio (of La Grappa), Le Bistro’s emphasis is on authenticity and quality – hence the condensed menu (two salads, six starters, two seafood dishes, four meats, four desserts, and a choice of farmhouse French cheeses and dried sausages) – and each dish is made with the finest ingredients available, many imported from France.
A dining experience starts with a complimentary amuse bouche and a free basket of warm home-made breads served with butter from La Rochelle, Chef Romain’s home town near Bordeaux.
Diners can then choose from highlights such as Slow cooked lamb shank, garlic cream (B490), Pan seared scallops, creamy and crispy parsnip, chives butter (B740), and the aforementioned Duck leg confit (B450), as well as a regularly changing specials menu which has a focus on seasonal dishes such as Brittany lobster and White asparagus.
As for dessert, the Little chocolate pot, Madeleine (B230) is a great way to end a meal, but we suggest you ask Chef Romain to let you sample his French toast, an off-menu special made using his grandmother’s recipe which will send your taste buds to sweet lover’s heaven.
The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. A lunch menu is available for B350 (includes bottled water and coffee).
214 Phetkasem Road, Hua Hin Tel: 080 756 2620