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Bistro Food: Simple Home-Style Cooking

The bistro is a popular type of eatery in America, but the concept came originally from Paris: the French “City of Light”. You may ask, what defines a bistro? It’s a small, cozy restaurant that serves simple, traditional food for a reasonable price. In a Parisian bistro, classic dishes such as beef bourguignon, confit de canard or steak tartare often populate the menu.

Rise and Fall of the Parisian Bistro

Bistros have never gone out of fashion, as such, in Paris, but times and habits change. Parisians increasingly spend their lunchtimes at work and use their “ticket restaurants” to buy groceries at the supermarket instead. This, combined with exorbitant rental costs in Paris, has put some bistros out of business.

A few Parisian restaurants have reinterpreted the bistro, offering a style of food that is dubbed “bistromony”. This is food prepared with all the care and attention of haute cuisine, but it uses affordable ingredients such as cheap meat (e.g. pig’s trotters) and low-priced fish. Bistromony is 50% gastronomy and 50% bistro.

Outside France

The appeal of the French bistro has traveled beyond the hexagonal border of France. For example, in the UK, the Café Rouge bistro chain has over 70 restaurants across the UK. Its theme is classically bistro, with French dishes such as croque monsieur and steak-frites adding authenticity.

Bistros exist right across America as well, though not all of them adhere to the original bistro concept. Just as in France, some restaurants are bistros in name only and drift away from the appealing idea of feeding people well for little money. There will always be a demand for that.