It took us a bit of stumbling around Defence Colony, in south Delhi, before finally reaching Le Bistro du Parc, at the Moolchand flyover corner of Def Col. When we did find the right door, it turned out that the little place had become very popular within about a year of its existence. We’d soon find out why – we had been invited to the chef’s table to celebrate an informal anniversary of the French bistro.
Run by Naïna de Bois-Juzan, a young French-Punjabi who has made Delhi her home for some years now, Le Bistro du Parc is a tiny two-floor space – the upstairs terrace is snug and cheerful in winter – that’s full of low-key charm. It also has a very international, cosmopolitan air, with Indian and European staff. The key ingredient of the food at this bistro is the chef; both the chefs who have run the bistro since it opened have been French. The French sensibility is essential for the success of the menu, feels Naïna.
Our dinner started with glasses of Fratelli wine and an amouse bouche, creamy polenta and black olives with tomato and thyme coulis. An amouse bouche is the culinary equivalent of ‘morning shows the day’, and this ‘morning’ was promising. The entrée was chicken liver paté and pear sauce, served with fresh bread. The paté had a smooth texture and a very sharp and distinctive flavour – quite a change for the Indian palate used to chilli and garam masala in almost everything.
This dinner, like the bistro menu, did remember vegetarians – though a French bistro in France would have very few or no vegetarian items, Le Parc du Bistro has devoted about half of its menu to those who wouldn’t touch meat. So, along with the chicken liver paté, a green pea soup with a gouda biscuit was served. If a pea soup deserved the label ‘outstanding’, this one did. Fine diners may not think much of the humble pea, but teamed with the biscuit, the soup was perfect in taste and consistency.
The main course was pan-fried red snapper with fennel sauce and green pea mousse, and ratatouille, the classic French stewed vegetable dish. The snapper had a gentle flavour and creamy texture, piquancy added to it by the fennel sauce, but the ratatouille trumped the fish with its more flamboyant taste.
For dessert, we were asked to choose between poached pear with vanilla cream and hot chocolate sauce, and banana with lime on a pistachio daquoise and chocolate / caramel sauce. We tried a bit of both and decided that the poached pear alone was worth another visit to Le Bistro du Parc. The banana dessert was quite good, but frankly there was no contest.
The bistro has started a Sunday brunch, served on both floors, and the Brunch Royal offer includes unlimited sparkling wine and Bloody Marys.
Address: Le Bistro du Parc, A-57/58/59, Moolchand Market, Defence Colony, New Delhi, Tel: 011-46780080
Cost for two: Rs 2,500 (a la carte); Sunday brunch: From Rs 2,000 per person (without alcohol)