The Bistro Who Wanted to be a Resto – Bistro Bar Hamra…

BistroBar Live Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Once upon a time in Hamra street, there was a little Bistro who had big dreams… And dreams are meant to be pursued, however, dreams can be costly…

In a probable effort to differentiate himself from the surrounding establishments… Bistro bar presented us that night, that once upon a time night… with a menu… a very ambitious menu, commendable, and I have to say, made my mouth water… I mean hey, who wouldn’t love to have some Truffle Potatoes or Mango Shrimps or a Citrus Salmon… with later on Some Sea food Risotto or a Chicken Tagliatelle among other things? Not really what you would expect in a bistro bar called Bistro Bar, Right? Nevertheless, like my friend Chicho from Lebanese Memes always says “Challenge Accepted” (it’s even on his business card…) So, it’s filled with expectations and with a broad mind that we had decided to tackle the “festin”

High Credits are to be given to “serVme” team… they spared no effort in making our experience to be the most enjoyable possible while being friendly and professional

The experience that started nicely, however, declined slowly over time…

The Tables and chairs are real high and while they are nice to have a drink over, listen to good music, chill and chat… they are far from being adequate for dining… let alone fine dining…

Pic 1

The Crudités cup and the tortilla chips with their tomato sauce were already on our table, which was nice, but since we had just arrived we were still greeting each other and the ones that were already there… that took what? 5 min? maybe… however when we focused back on the table, we noticed that someone had Cast “Evanesco (Vanishing Spell)” straight out of Harry Potter… the crudités and chips were gone… when asked, the waiter said… “eh ana chelton” yet he had asked no one on our table to do so… (we were relieved though… it wasn’t magic), concerning the crudités, try to choose the cauliflowers that looks really neat, anything less is a turn off on the plate.

Pic 4

The Pizza Rolls were next, oily and a bit soggy… they taste however good and were an example of how the food should be like in Bistro Bar…

Pic 7

The Rock Mango Shrimps were beautifully presented in shape and color, the taste was also there, crispy shrimps that had absorbed well the mango sauce… with however a little “arriere gout” of mayonnaise, a bit less would have been perfect… great job on that item…

Pic 5

Then came the Truffle Potatoes… where do I start… they looked good, the presentation was fair enough, as for the taste, well… it’s really controversial, either you like or you don’t… the dish did not smell good… maybe because of the cream ? the Cabernet Sauvignon that should be in it? Or maybe an excess of truffle oil?  I Don’t know, regardless, I could taste where the chef was probably trying to take that dish… but it didn’t quite make it… I’m a fan of Truffle Potatoes… but I was left wanting…

Pic 2

I was really happy when I saw the Citrus Salmon making its way to our table… I love Salmon… Salmon didn’t disappoint, really tasty and of good quality, it’s the avocado on its top that I didn’t appreciate, it was soaked with citrus… so much that the avocado was starting to break down under the acidity and of course had lost all of its taste… it’s really too bad as this dish had a great potential… it was so nicely presented…

pic 6

French fries is always a great appetizer, especially if you add melted parmesan on it’s top… just try to put a good quantity of parmesan, because in our case… after the first 3 to 4 pieces were eaten… no Parmesan was left…

pic 3

Quinoa…. The ingredient trending the most in all restaurants in town… well, here I have to say… great Quinoa Salad, it’s only a technicality that was the inconvenience, and not anything in the dish itself. You see in Bistro Bar… you don’t exactly “See” what you are about to eat or are actually eating, because of the very dimmed lights (that makes it even harder to read the big menu with small characters) so anyways… the Quinoa Salad contained some Pomegranate Arils (the red jewels inside the pomegranate) , and while they enhance the dish in taste and presentation, with no lights, you tend to crunch it under your teeth with the hard seed inside it, causing a little pain and a lot of sour taste… great dish though… really…

By now, we had already noticed that the waiters were absolutely not trained in the art of food service, or at least how to serve fine dining… and it was not because of the rush or anything, they are just used to serving drinks and sandwiches… quickly clean a table etc… however, you do not remove a dish from under the nose of any client without asking them… and definitely not as quickly as you’d remove an empty drink glass to push for the sale of the next one… people who are dining take their time, especially if some drinks are involved… However it was clear that they were on some sort of schedule from the kitchen staff, and were acting automatically: when a new dish arrived, the old one, empty or not, was removed… If I mention that we were 5 persons on the table and were served 1 person portions throughout the night, you would understand that most had one or two bites of each dish and thus left the place hungry… despite a diner invitation…

pic 8

Moving on to the Sea Food Risotto… beautiful presentation, I loved the touch of the “Moule” that was in the middle of it… however that sea food risotto tasted more like tomato risotto with a some sea food inside… the “Mollusque’s” flavor were simply not there… As for the “Moule”, it was hard, chewy with a strong smell… i couldn’t eat it…

pic 9

At almost the same time, we had the Chicken Tagliatelle, the pasta was a tad overcooked, it had absorbed very well the mushroom taste, however was really really lacking in seasoning… beside the mushroom flavor, it was tasteless… The chicken tenders were perfectly cooked with again, poor seasoning, great dish though, big potential, but trust me chef: loose the wing… it has no place on the plate…

Pic 10

My disappointment dramatically increased with the Rib-eye burger… don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but it’s ground meat… when you announce Rib-Eye, please make sure you have an actual piece of it on the plate… and not some unidentifiable ground meat patty… Tasty unidentifiable ground meat patty though… Ok, I will take your word for it… it was ground Rib Eye…

pic 11

We discussed some of the above issues with the restaurant owner, a real nice guy truth be said… but then the dessert arrived: The “Drop It Like it’s Hot Cookie” was a delight, a bit sticking to the pan… not as huge as I’ve read in some other blogs… but a real treat…  then we got a surprise… another dessert: the Pain Perdu… even a better flavor, for me at least, I loved it, but like everything that night, something or someone had to mess it up… a friend on our table enquired with the waiter: “ hay ma mafroud yenzal ma3a ice cream?” to which the waiter replied quickly: “houweh mafroud…” then turned his back and left… Training people, training…!

pic 12

A quick word on the drinks we had, (I rarely drink) they seemed to me a bit strong , but the Margarita was undrinkable, very sour, very strong, it was not margarita, all around me who had it, only had a sip and left it as is… I really enjoyed the Bloody Mary though…

To conclude my long prose… You have a great atmosphere, we enjoyed the music, however, I would sincerely recommend you guys to drop the heavy food stuff, you don’t need to be doing fine dining for your success in your current location, you are not equipped for it (tables) nor your people are trained for it (service) and despite having a good chef, I’m suspecting he has poor assistance around him… I know you want to be different… just use creativity as a differentiating point and not a menu upgrade…

 

Gaston L’ honnête

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5 comments

  • Dear Yummy Lebanon,

    Thank you for your detailed review on our Zomato page.

    I was thrilled that you could be with us during the launch of our new menu. However, it was disappointing and rather confusing to read your subsequent comments.

    Firstly, allow me to stress that the concept of BistroBar Live is a pub-bistro and not a fine dining restaurant like you suggested or felt we aspired to be. We operate a bistro by day and a vibrant pub by night. There is live entertainment in the evenings and great cuisine all day long. Our intention was always to offer quality food, rather than the standard nibbles and finger food available at other spots in town.

    Secondly, I couldn’t agree with you more that our establishment has big dreams and ambitions, factors that really separate us from the rest. We have been extremely successful in Hamra and we had the confidence to open a second branch in Dbayeh.

    You seemed bothered by the high tables but we do have low ones, which you would have spotted. It’s an issue of preference and we certainly offer both options.

    I can assure you that no magic tricks took place (that bit actually made me laugh!) Your table arrived a little late to the event and the crudités were removed to make room for the hot appetizers. As for the cauliflower, our vegetables are washed with a special detergent and the black spot was natural.

    The pizza rolls you had were not oily. It was simply the taste of the pepperoni, which you would know contains some fat.

    Our rock mango shrimp sauce is not overloaded with mayonnaise and is, in fact, one of our bestsellers. If you are simply not a fan of mayonnaise then it could be a little too much.

    The truffle potato is our number one selling item and the best-reviewed dish we have. I do not understand what you mean by smelly. Perhaps your palate just didn’t appreciate the taste.

    Concerning the citrus salmon, which you considered errr… citrusy tasting, I think the name pretty much sums it up. I am unsure what you were expecting!

    We will be looking into the Parmesan French fries and ensuring the cheese is evenly distributed over the whole dish. Thank you for sharing this.

    I am pleased you enjoyed the Quinoa salad although I’m not sure what relevance lighting has.

    Regarding the caliber of our staff, they are highly trained professionals. The menu was a sharing one in order to taste our new items and not to provide a fine dining experience. I had a watchful eye on my staff members that evening and know for a fact that the plates were removed only when new ones came in.

    The seafood risotto has a pink sauce and not a tomato sauce, as you mentioned. I am sorry you did not enjoy the dish but it is a matter of taste.

    The chicken tagliatelle is the newest addition to our menu and rapidly becoming a house favorite. The wing is for presentation only but we are planning to remove it shortly.

    Our rib eye burger is 100% rib eye meat and not a meat patty. It is also the top choice for main course.

    Finally, coming to the desserts, the cookie is not stuck to the pan! That’s how it comes out of the oven. The pain perdu does come with ice cream but yours did not by accident. Mistakes do happen but it’s the recovery that counts and we tried to make it up by sending three scoops. I am rather insulted that you failed to mention this and instead commented about the waiter ‘turning his back and walking away,’ something that simply is not true.

    It is quite obvious that you are not much of a drinker as otherwise you would recognize the quality of our cocktails and our mixologists who have won most of the competitions they have attended. At Diageo’s World Class Bartenders Competition, three out of six finalists were from BistroBar Live.

    In short, although we would like to thank you for your lengthy advice, we will stick to doing what we do best; running a popular bistro and bar. We will leave you to do what you’re good at… quoting from Harry Potter.

    Kind regards,

    Tarek Chamas
    Managing Partner

    Like

    • Well, BistroBar Live, (Tarek Chamas) if you can’t take criticism graciously, like all others did before you, then you are probably in the wrong business…

      1- you are a bistro bar and you presented us with a fine dining menu and did seat us on high chairs despite knowing what you were presenting…

      2 – I never said or hinted that ur cauliflowers were dirty and needed detergent (that’s you saying that…) i just said they should be selected better… I had spared you the pain of the story of a black spotted cauliflower and it’s picture, but u don’t seem to appreciate that…

      3- Our table did not arrive late at all ! Are you sure you have been paying attention? Besides, no matter how late we had arrived, a waiter has no right to remove anything from a guest table before asking permission no matter what… Check your hospitality service manual please

      4- i did say i loved your pizza rolls and its how all ur items should be… As for the rock mango shrimps, again, i never said they were overloaded with mayo!!! Are u sure u read carefully my review? I said they were delicious with a little “arriere gout” of mayo, that means a slight taste of mayonnaise… Maybe its ur french that is lacking? Get it translated, get ur facts straight before lashing out blindly…

      I did say smelly, as in having strong smell (didnt mention if it was bad or good) however in both cases, it involves the nostrils and not the palate (as the palate is in the mouth)

      The Citrus Lemon had the avocado soaked in citrus which totally covers the taste of the avocados, i did say though that the salmon was of great quality and delicious… You seem to be only looking at the negatives…

      5- I was a guest at ur establishment, and i complained that, the service was bad and the dishes were removed without permission from the people on the table… And you are saying they were not? Despite having 4 witnesses on my table only ? Are you saying that we are liars ? Where did u learn so much professionalism ? I’m actually chocked!

      6- Again, you didnt read properly my review, i did enjoy ur risoto, it was really nice, but it had no taste of seafood, the taste was tomato sauce… If you don’t care for people’s opinion, don’t invite them to give you one !!!!

      7- the cookie was stuck to the pan, regardless if it comes like that or not, it was stuck to the pan, but does that really matter? It was delicious and I had said that!!!!, as for the pain perdu, what recovery are you talking about ? The waiter did turn his back and left and you were standing right on my left talking to me… After that we said good buy snd left… There was no recovery… Maybe u did order for one… But it simply didnt happen…

      Your burger was great, i said it, but it was ground meat, probably taken from a ribeye… I did say that i took your word for it… Did u really read my review ?

      8- I did say that i drink rarely in my review (if you read it at all) however margarita is my favorite drink and i stick with what i had said… Its undrinkable, and that to the opinion of at least 5 persons that were around me… The rest of the drink as i said were a little too strong for me, and the bloody mary was great… Again, if u cant take criticism don’t invite people to give you one….

      To conclude, Mr Chamas, by replying to my review the way you did, you only made my point about your service being not up to the task, if you, the head, were unprofessional enough to argue my opinions as a guest and treat us of liars, and try to discredit us at the end… My joke of harry potter was a metaphore used in the text, not against your establishment, but as a note of humour, (apparently you have none) however you, turned it on us and meant it as in insult… Thank you…

      If i was manager at your establishement and had to reply to my review i would have said the following:

      “Thank you for taking the time of writing this review, We do value and appreciate your input to us, We regret that we were not up to your expectations however we promise you that we will keep on improving, dreams are costly as you said, but we will realize them, and it will be worth it.

      We hope to see you soon in Bistro Bar Hamra, don’t forget to reserve a low table if you’re planning a dinner… ”

      That Mr. Chamas is how professional restaurateurs reply, if they reply at all…

      I bid you a good day!

      Like

  • Dear Yummy Lebanon,

    Thank you for writing once again.

    It seems you took offense to the reply we presented you with. We would like to state that we were simply responding to each of the points you made and did read your confusing review thoroughly. We thanked you for posting but perhaps you missed that.

    You see, the issue we have is this. We love receiving feedback from our guests and do not mind constructive criticism in the slightest. After all, how can we improve if we don’t take notice of what our customers say. But your review was just vindictive with very few valid points. You ended your post with how we should have replied and indeed we would have, as we’ve done before to others, had it not been full of inconsistencies and mistruths. I wonder whether you are used to receiving such apologetic messages. You did say ‘like all others did before you.’

    Anyhow, back to the details. Just to reiterate, we never presented a fine dining menu. It was a simple, tasting menu. The invitation even said ‘to try the new food and cocktail menu’ and it was set at 7pm to be a casual after work event. Furthermore, we did not choose the seating. We allowed the Servme team do so based on the size of the group.

    Concerning the cauliflower, I know you did not specify the black spot but we did because we have nothing to hide whatsoever.

    Moving on, nobody lashed out. We mentioned what was in the pizza rolls to clarify for those reading your review.

    You contradicted yourself about the potato truffles. You DID say “the dish did not smell good.” We mentioned your palate (which we know is in the mouth) because you said “I could taste where the chef was probably trying to take that dish… but it didn’t quite make it” and on a side note, I am French educated.

    Negatives had nothing to do with the point about the citrus salmon. We just said that the taste is reflected in the name.

    We wanted to correct you on the pink sauce, which you thought was tomato.

    I personally ordered the three scoops of ice cream and they DID arrive. The whole table saw the plate and I even mentioned to everyone that it was to make up for the forgotten one.

    We wanted to assure you that the rib-eye was indeed rib-eye. We would not advertise it as such if it wasn’t!

    Concerning the margarita, it is actually called Bistro’s smoked margarita as it is smoked with tequila and agave. The taste is supposed to be strong.

    Finally, no one was insulting anybody. We were just using the same level of sarcasm used in your review.

    I would now like to make a suggestion: don’t dish it if you can’t take it (excuse the pun).

    Graciously yours,

    Tarek Chamas
    Managing Partner

    Like

    • Dear Bistro Bar management / Tarek,

      Thank you for taking the time to write to us on our humble, yet truthful review; especially since it was on a vibrant Saturday night.

      I commend your follow up, seriously – and in case an agency was involved, kudos to them too. My intention was not to push any overtime work on your desks, but to just share my honest to God experience.

      Food by itself is an art for each business and a fulfilling experience for each foodie. The reason I am saying this is my review was meant for that specific night experience, and not towards the all mighty Bistro Bar organization (God forbids).

      In the age of Digital and Social Media, the customer/guest is truly king, and the brand has the full right to answer each and every comment in the way they see fit, but without any twirls or twists:
      • In my initial post, i commended serVme team for their hospitality and thank you for adjusting this point in your latest reply – seating arrangement was handled by them so no need for any “spotting” of a better adjusted table by the customers
      • 10 minutes lateness is normal in Lebanon, so considering the traffic of Lebanon and the event you were having, i guess a bit of leniency from the whole staff towards us mere mortals would been really appreciated, especially in cleaning out the dishes out of the table
      • Regarding the dining vs sampling part, it was my bad. Sampling it is, for a plethora of items that truly resemble a fine dining experience
      • I re-invite you to re-read the original review (however confusing it might be), which contained the word “great” 7 times for the items and place, to highlight just one word. I stand by the original review as part of my truthful description towards my loyal customers (the readers). Hence my firm belief that Bistro Bar’s rating was 2.5 for that night only, which we stand by it and updated it again. We are not rating the place for its customer service or “my way or the highway” management style. That was rude and wrong of us as we focus on the place and food.
      • I re-emphasize my story, which was shared with 4 other people fully present that night with us, and re-invite you to review the training of the staff. No need to add to this point as its result will surely be shown on the long run
      • I feel, from the ice cream rebuttal, that you might have us confused with another group; we are the ones that cannot be missed: a 30 years old social / training guru and a 40 years old food, safety and hygiene specialist…. Oh wait, I get it how you might have missed us; you had your eyes on the staff members the whole night (excuse the pun)
      • Regarding the margarita, as it was also served part of the tasting of the menu, no explanation was provided to the table about its “special lovely world competition winner” mixture. Maybe we should have asked indeed before trying a served margarita; again we, the guests, were at wrong here.

      Allow me to quote a known real life business man as you seem to be allergic to Fictional Characters. It was Bill Gates who said “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”; and my personal favorite memorized from experience quote “brands should do more listening and action than talking”.

      Finally, we bid you, the management, good luck in your future endeavors and we inform our readers and others that this will be our last reply for this subject, we know our readers and fans are eager to see much more interesting content that can enrich their food experience wherever they go.

      Best regards,

      The Yummy Lebanon Team

      Like

  • Dear Yummy Lebanon (Team),

    Thank you for your reply. Apologies for the delay in getting back to you but, as we are sure you can appreciate, there has been a busy restaurant to run.

    We were truly flattered by your suggestion that an agency may have been involved in the production of our responses but the truth is, we don’t believe in outsourcing such things. As you rightly mentioned, the customer is king and valued as such, we have personally read and replied to each of your lengthy messages.

    As we have been lucid in offering explanations to each of the points raised in your first and subsequent posts, we do not believe any further clarification is required. Thus, not wanting to delay you in your important role of reviewing the numerous other establishments in this fine city of ours, we bid you a fond farewell and wish you success in your blogging career.

    Warmest regards,

    Tarek Chamas
    Managing Partner

    Like

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