After having run in to Vincent Guerin on arrival and had a little catch up on how their Festival programme was going, I popped downstairs.
Ostensibly the coffee room for the Institut, during the Festival it is open every day there’s a show on to offer meals to revellers. These include Gallic classics like croque monsieur, cheese and wine, as well as a daily changing specials board.
On my visit, I started with tomato soup (£3) then followed with a croque monsieur (£5). I took a seat at one of the wonderfully mismatched tables, which blended bistro chairs and tables with some more functional items and a couple of rather grand throne-like seats.
The soup arrived promptly and looked rather bonnie. It packed wonderfully herby flavour from fresh rosemary and had a very well-judged texture. It got a firm thumbs up.
The croque monsieur was equally accomplished. The bechamel had lovely notes nutmeg giving the otherwise simple cheese and ham toastie real panache. It was really enjoyable.
I rounded things out with good espresso, which drew to a conclusion a lovely lunchtime interlude.
So overall, I was entirely pleased with my visit to Le Bistrot. Catch it over the last few days of the Festival, then try to twist a few arms to get it to open more regularly throughout the year.