Classic bistro foods would of course be French rustic dishes, after all the Bistro emanated from Paris and was a form of cheap wholesome food that could be termed as classic French country food.The Bistro’s of Paris made easy to prepare dishes that would last a long time, such as vegetable stews, and cassoulets, these would be made from locally sourced ingredients to old classic recipes. Today the term Bistro has evolved just to mean a small restaurant, and has no real connection to its former meaning. And now there are Bistro’s all over the world, so the term typical Bistro food is really a contradiction, as it would depend what country you are eating in. So, for this exercise we have gone back in time, and have put together some traditional French dishes that would have been served in the Bistro’s of Paris a hundred years or so ago.

Pot-au-Feu

Pot-au-Feu

A real one pot classic French casserole, in many ways it epitomizes classic Bistro fare. In essence Pot-au-Feu is a beef stew and at its heart is a rich marrow bone imparting a deep meaty flavor to the dish, of course root vegetables are cooked in the same pot. In the classic Bistro way, the large cauldron would be constantly topped up with more ingredients as dishes were served during the day. Accompanied by nothing more than fresh crusty bread to dip into the delicious hearty stock.

Pate-en-Croute

Pate-en-Croute is a French version of the famous Cornish Pasty, with of course more Gallic flair and imagination. Often in rural France the dish would have game and perhaps local truffles as a filling topped with a thick crunchy pastry lid. The dish is strongly seasoned and the seasonal ingredients are all held in place by a tasty jelly. This dish could be made days ahead of consuming, and was an excellent item for Bistros to have as a larder ingredient as it would keep for weeks.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Soups were always a Bistro classic, and there is none better than the hearty French Onion Soup. Onions, garlic, stock are a classic combination for soups and with the addition of crunchy croutons and grated cheese make this a bowl of winter cheer. A cauldron of bubbling French Onion Soup is a delight to see in a Bistro, especially on cold winter days. The thick soup lines your stomach with a satisfying glow that will cheer you up to face the day.

Saddle of Hare

Bistro food is very much seasonal food, dishes that the ingredients can all be sourced locally. And a big favorite is game, rabbit and hare. The saddle is actually taken from the rear of the animal but is a terrific cut and suits long cooking in various stocks. It can also be prepared with hops to impart a delicious flavor to the meat. Served with seasonal vegetables game is a classic Bistro dish. Other classic Bistro dishes would include, boeuf bourguignonne, bouillabaise, navarin d’agneau, coq au vin, duck confit, steak tartare, and pâtés & terrines.