Breakfast like Italian aristocracy at The Bistro Restaurant
WHEN my sisters and I were growing up, breakfast consisted of a bowl of Kelloggs cornflakes and a slice of toast, before we dashed off to get to school in time for assembly. At the weekend, we had bacon, eggs and fried tomato.
Much later we heard about continental breakfasts of yoghurt, cold meat, cheese and bread, served with coffee, but things remained the same at home, with Tanganda tea always the preferred breakfast drink.
When the Sheraton Hotel, aka the Golden Boot opened, our lives changed forever, and weekend breakfasts of Danish pastries and cappuccino coffees became the rage. As the 2000s marched on, being thin and healthy became the thing. Carbohydrates were sidelined and Banting breakfasts of oats, yoghurt, flax and chia seeds, blueberries and strawberries were on the menu in all the restaurants.
Recent years have seen a revival of the full English breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, black pudding, toast and tea. It’s now cool to gather your friends together and go out for breakfast, particularly at the weekend. If you’re making an occasion of it, there’s very little point in eating a bowl of muesli and sipping a banana smoothie – rather enjoy yourself and go for the full monty.
The Bistro, an upmarket restaurant formerly operating from Borrowdale, moved recently to an elegant address on Enterprise Road, Highlands, leasing space from the newly-located Italian Club. The Bistro breakfast menu looked exciting. Muesli and breakfast cereal were out – filo baskets with mushroom duxelles, poached egg with Hollandaise sauce and grilled pancetta were in. So I booked a table for two, for an early-morning mid-week breakfast.
At 9 am on a Tuesday morning, we had the place to ourselves. Seated on the veranda of what was once a gracious residence, now tastefully restored to resemble a Tuscan Villa, we felt as though we were breakfasting like Italian aristocracy. The lone waiter welcomed us warmly, and within minutes had brought me a steaming hot coffee latte ($8) made from flavoursome La Lucie coffee beans. George’s choice, a cappuccino ($8) was also hot and aromatic.
We had barely scanned the breakfast menu when our waiter broke the news that the chef on duty could make only four out of the nine breakfast options. The chefs who knew how to make the rostis with smoked salmon, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, the crumpets with the grilled Black Forest ham with banana and maple syrup, and the filo baskets with mushrooms, poached eggs and grilled pancetta, would report for duty several hours later, in time for lunch. Reporting to my readers on scrambled egg on toast with bacon rashers had not been the purpose of my visit. Eventually I ordered French toast with bacon and grilled tomato ($19), knowing that French toast could be either seriously good, or quite ordinary. French toast to impress should be made with thickly sliced challah bread or brioche, failing which, white bread sliced at least 1.27 cm thick. The result should be fluffy and tender within, crisp and golden outside. My order arrived, quite prettily presented, with a light sprinkling of chopped parsley. But the French toast was made from a skinny pre-sliced loaf bought in the supermarket, and neither looked or tasted like a dish from a top end restaurant.
George chose a satisfying dish – beef fillet medallion with pork sausage, egg, tomato, bacon and toast ($29). The toast, although a whiter shade of pale, was served with fresh, good quality butter, and nice whole fruit strawberry jam.
Renovations continue apace at the Italian Club, which will open its doors within the next few weeks to members old and new. A spacious conference room will be available, also a dining area and a bar for members. Green lawns slope down to the bottom of the garden, and a five a side football pitch for sporting enthusiasts. A soon-to-be-completed club house with a bar and a kitchen is under construction, adjoining the playing fields.
The Bistro Restaurant has its own well-stocked bar, and attractive if pricey lunch and dinner menus. The general public might find paying $29 for a breakfast dish excessive, but if you’re looking for style and ambience, and your pockets are deep, book a table for Saturday or Sunday morning, when all the chefs are in attendance. A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff
The Bistro Restaurant
197 Enterprise Road
Mobile: 0779 878 548
Open daily except Mondays
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