The first thing you would notice about the restaurant is that it is very very bright. It doesn't help that there is a floor to ceiling mirror that seems to further illuminate the place. It hurts the eyes somewhat with the bright light and the fluorescent whiteness didn't help romanticise the place at all, in fact it made it somewhat sterile. If only they dimmed it just a tad then it would make for mood lighting.
A bit of the interior of Bistro Des Artistes
We were given a corner facing the floor to ceiling mirror and next to the pastry cabinet. The menus were around on our table - postcard menus, very cool, one I can take home. It's a 5 course menu for $75 with the entree, main and dessert having three options for you to choose from. Nicely priced, I like it so far.
The menu for the night
I think that's pretty much when it went a little pear shaped. We had a very inattentive waitstaff. He was too busy looking at himself in the mirror that explaining to us what the dishes actually were (considering they were all in French!). Not only did he not explain to us what the dishes were, when informed that my bf had an allergy to nuts he looked blankly at us (like nut allergies were unheard of!) and then said.. "hmm.. I think none of the choices for sir has nuts.." then went off. There was not a word of "I'll double check with the chef" and his reponse wasn't exactly reassuring. Shocking really.
Our bread and butter were delivered to the table - cold bread - I think I've been spoiled and have been given warm bread at so many other places that I just expect warm bread now. Still it was nice bread and butter (so silky, smooth and slightly salted).
We ordered a bottle of French red - Domaine Charvin 2010 Cortes du Rhone, rather lovely, rich, fruity velvety red. Our glasses were never topped up. Our glasses of tap water was never filled up when emptied nor were we given a bottle to fill ourselves. Service really was lacking, even for a Bistro! Especially one that is owned by two well known chefs (each having very successful and amazing venues of their own - Alain Fabregues and Emmanuel Mollois).
So anyway back to the meals.. for entrees, one of the guys had beef carpaccio served with watercress and blue berry dessing. It looked rather freshing and the carpaccio was thinly sliced and drizzled all over with the dressing. He enjoyed the dish and commented on the quality of the beef carpaccio.
Beef carpaccio served with watercress and blue berry dressing
Bf and DS opted for the roasted scallops with cream leeks and a citrus emulsion. I was lucky to have a little taster of this dish and the scallops were cooked to perfection and the cream leeks gave this dish richness, although the citrus emulsion was a little too tangy and tart for my liking and the acidity and the citrus flavours seems to be just sitting at the bottom of the dish. Wasn't well emulsified perhaps?
Roasted Scallops with cream leeks and a citrus emulsion
I ordered rather blindly, mainly because I wanted something different that the boys didn't have and I wasn't explained what a champignon farci was (I'm really not cultured when it comes to culinary names that I don't come across often and this happens to be one of those). Suffice to say the dish came out and I was pleasantly surprised. Stuffed field mushrooms at its best! The mushroom was nice and juicy and the sauce was creamy goodness. The whole dish worked really well together and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Then the mains came. Bf was the odd one out and opted for the braised lamb shank served with flageolets. It came out somewhat like a stew/curry/very Moroccan inspired. Something he wasn't expecting. Filled with chickpeas, beans potatoes, and spices. The lamb however fell off the bone and was very tender. However, it had that intense lamb smell which wasn't to my liking. However, the flavours of the dish was nice, although it could be a little stronger.
Braised lamb shank served with flageolets
The rest of us opted for the cobble of Atlantic salmon with aromatic beurre blanc and herb mash. This was just divine. The salmon was cooked perfectly. Nice and pink on the inside. It had this wonderful buttery texture and just melted in your mouth. The herb mash was yum and the beurre blanc sauce was delicious was creamy and thick. Melt-in-your-mouth salmon/perfectly cooked salmon is hard to come by and this was one of those moments that was perfect.
Cobble of Atlantic Salmon with aromatic beurre blanc and herb mash
Next is one of my favourite courses that I don't ever get. Cheese. I'm actually not sure what type of cheese we got, but I'm pretty sure it was two different cheese and this apple date salad thing. We weren't explained by the waiter what exactly was on our slab. It was just placed down in front of us. All we knew was that it was cheese and bread and apple matchstick salad with a creamy yogurt dressing.
Le Fromage du jour; La Buche D' Affinois
If anyone knows what the two French words I wrote up are please let me know because that was what was written as our cheese course. I would love to know as I really enjoyed the cheese and wouldn't mind finding it at the shops for myself. Cheers ^_^
Once our cheese course was finished we were given our pre-dessert, which was this very lovely creme caramel rice pudding with caramelised walnuts on top. It was creamy, sweet, cold and somewhat palate cleansing and perfect way to get ready for the dessert.
Pre-dessert - Creme Caramel Rice Pudding with caramelised walnuts
For the dessert I wanted the creme brulee but they ran out which I was very disappointed about, because after all they are a French bistro how can they run out of brulee!! Very sad. So instead I opted for the Dessert of the day which was a fruit of the forrest tart. It was very sweet and the base was very well done, but I really am not one for sweetened fruits and should have known better than to have chosen it, but for those that fruit tarts this would be for you. I loved the ice cream though and thought that the pre-dessert was better and wished there was more of the pre-dessert! I didn't end of finishing it because it really wasn't to my taste.
Dessert of the Day - Fruit of the Forrest
Bf on the other hand opted for the petite pot de creme vanille with canelle de bordeaux. Which really is vanilla creme and baked/caramelised custard. The custard by itself is a little dry but when eaten with the vanilla creme it is delicious. Light for a dessert and very typically French.
petite pot de creme vanille with canelle de bordeaux
After our desserts were done our coffee/tea orders were taken, although our dishes were left on the table. They were eventually cleaned well after our pots of tea and coffee were served on our table. In fact we had to ask for our dishes to be cleared in order for us to drink our tea and have the petites four.
The other disappointing thing was that we were given one pot of small tea between two people, just because we ordered the same tea. Jasmine Tea. Seriously, tea for the restaurant is just throwing in the tea leaves (leaves if you are lucky.. at times it's just a tea bag!) and boiling water. I'm sure they can spare to give us a pot each. The petites four given to us were a jube and chocolate truffles, which were lovely indeed and was the perfect way to end the meal.
Choice of tea/coffee and petites fours
Overall, the food at Bistro Des Artistes is pretty good more hits than misses. Definitely value for money if you are having their set menu and 5 course meal. They also have a nice selection of wines on offer.
There is however, a huge problem with service - lack of service, which really impacts on how your enjoy your night. It's worse when you were 15 minutes late to your car because you couldn't find ONE waiter in sight to ask for the bill at the end of the night. They seemed to have vanished. AND because of looking for a waiter and ONLY 15 minutes to your car - you got a parking fine (and you already forked out $10 on parking ticket!). NOT nice. There is also a lack of ambiance in the restaurant, nothing romantic or cosy or warm and I think it has a lot to do with the lighting, because the decor it self is nice.
If those two things are fixed, in particular the service I think this restaurant has ticked on the boxes.
Will I go back? Maybe, but I'm not in any rush to.