On our last visit, on a Friday night, Bistro Convent sat empty save for our table and a man dining alone, reading a book. Given the adorably cliched setting—woven chairs, round marble tops facing leafy Soi Convent, chalkboard above the bar—we almost wished he were smoking a Gitane.
The food is equally Parisian and competently executed, which makes us wonder why the place isn’t doing any better. Probably because it’s too authentic for its own good: no tuna tataki salad, no pasta, no lava cake. Instead, you get dishes with funny names (vol au vent anyone?) and amphibians (flambeed frog legs, B480)—exactly what a French bistro should be serving.
While the escargots’ (B380 for 6) plentiful chunks of garlic could have been a tad more cooked, the dish otherwise hit all the buttery notes and powerful aromas that makes chewing on little molluscs so rewarding. The familiar panned foie gras (B680) also stands out. No saccharine balsamic drizzle here. The perfectly cooked lobes of liver are surrounded by apple slices in a red wine reduction. Délicieux.
True to the bistro format, the kitchen also makes a mean steak frites (B680): the hand-cut potato wedges are just superb, the Australian rib-eye tender and juicy. Ordered rare, it came rare. The boeuf bourguignon (B380) is equally satisfying, not just for its stewed beef but for the rich sauce with notes of carrots, mushrooms and red wine.
Like the rest of the menu, the pastry is a “best of” gallic classics: tarte tatin, souffle Grand Marnier or crepes suzette (all of which are whopping B380). Our lemon tart (B280), clearly made with generous amounts of lemon, was much more intense than some of the more popular pastry shops in town.
When you get the check, you’re reminded that being so produce-centric, French food doesn’t come cheap. At these prices, you could have rubbed shoulders with the cool kids up the street at Vesper; so why sit alone with the man reading Sartre? To flee the tyranny of tiramisu and bolognese is why. Corkage B300