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Review: French favourites at Bistro Michel in Birnam

Bistro Michel interiors

Bistro Michel’s moody interiors. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

The food at Bistro Michel is well rooted in traditional French cuisine. This is hardly surprising, considering the chef patron is Michel Morand, formerly of Auberge Michel in Sandton, and of strong French heritage himself. He has donned his chef’s whites and applied his mum’s classical recipes to hit the pots and pans at Bistro Michel, and is delivering very moreish, wholesome dishes for his patrons to lap up.

Food

Dishes include starters of classic French onion soup, carpaccio of Mauritian seabass, mille-feuille of salmon tartare, and crisp, classical salads, which are lightly dressed and served with warm cheese on crisp bread. There is something for every kind of palate.

Bistro Michel steak tartare

The steak tartare at Bistro Michel. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

The main courses will have your taste buds tingling with dishes such as rich lamb shank, duck confit or côte de boeuf served with classic béarnaise sauce. Also listed are some gorgeous seafood offerings. Main courses are not served standard with side dishes; however there is a selection of gratins and sides available. The gratin de macaroni and truffle is a little hit and miss, but the dauphinois is amazing and the green beans are delicious. Expect bistro-style plating, so nothing over the top, with garnishing a little messy. The portion sizes are a touch small but generally filling. The desserts are basic but pleasant and if you have a sweet tooth; it’s worth sampling a crème brûlée or chocolate fondant.

Drinks

They offer a great selection of local and international wines, and a few that you may not come across too frequently. The wait staff are very clued up about wine, so it’s really fun chatting to them about what they recommend.

Service

Service is a bit of a mixed bag. There are extremely experienced waitrons here, people who worked with Michel at Auberge Michel in Sandton – some of South Africa’s finest. These gentlemen will not allow you to change anything on the menu, they know more about food and wine than most chefs do and their hosting ability is astounding. And yet there is the odd waitron at this establishment that seems to be on the other end of the spectrum – trainees perhaps?

Michel Morand

Chef Michel Morand of Bistro Michel. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Ambience

The décor is fantastic, the vibe is fabulous and the location great, but the tables inside can be a little too close together for comfort. Other than that, the ambience is lovely and Bistro Michel is a fabulous establishment for any occasion, with an indoor and outdoor seating area.

And…

If you see the chef has a gap in service, ask him for a wine recommendation. He is extremely knowledgeable.

Have you dined in fine French style at Bistro Michel in Birnam? Let us know what you thought by writing a review.

Eat Out critics visit anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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