Bibiche Bistro - Horrible!
I'd been meaning to try this restaurant ever since it re-located to the Beach and never did make it up to Gerrard when it was at it's original location, so it was with some excitement that I went there last night in search of what I hoped would be a bright new star on the boring Queen Street strip.
The first thing both my friend and I noticed when we walked in was that the place reeked of fresh cigarette smoke. I have asthma and I am allergic to cigarette smoke. After we had been there about ten minutes my chest began to tighten and I began to cough. I asked the owner about it and he assured me no one there smoked. I had wondered, since we were seated near the kitchen, if the kitchen staff was sneaking out the back door for a quick one but he said that wasn't so. Soon afterward, however, the smoke smell disappeared, my symptoms vanished and we decided to order. Big mistake!
Although the salads were very good - I had the avocado and hearts of palm and my friend had the pear and walnut - with great tasting vinaigrette and wonderful fresh arugula, the mains did not live up to the great expectations the salads had given us hope of.
Everything on the menu, with the exception of the steak had a very fussed-about-with sound to it - far too much encrusting in nuts for my liking, but we thought we had found some more simple fare with what we ordered. My friend ordered mussels marinaire, which, in my experience usually mean a tomato sauce, but they came swimming in cream. She fished through about 2 dozen shells and found about six mussels. The white cream sauce was too opaque to see where the rest were hiding.
I chose the Partridge in a pear sauce, which turned out to be some sort of heavy, sticky brown-coloured wine reduction with a few soggy pear slices. The partridge had clearly been frozen and was rubbery beyond belief. The bed of lentils it was on was more like a mattress. There were far more than the average person could eat - at least two cups' worth and they were far too al dente. The vegetables were soggy and they, along with the potatoes were napped in some fkind of vile-tasting mustard cream sauce. Such a clash of flavours and inappropriate textures was, to me, clearly the work of someone who never went to culinary school. We told the waiter that we had eaten so little because we are both employed by a leading weight loss company, which is true, but not the reason for the mainly full plates we left behind. When we want to blow calories we know how to do it right.
I don't mind that the place is unpretentious and the prices are reasonable, but dear Lord, couldn't they serve something edible? I tried hard to see what the other diners in the mostly full restaurant were having that would justify the amount of business they had. I saw a few huge steaks that looked cooked to greyness. I could only conclude that most people don't know what good food is. We could have gone to Vi Vetha and had much better value and edible food. Never again.
Incidentally, the smoke smell? It returned while we waited (far too long) for our cheque. I'm still inhaling steroids this morning as I write this.
The cigarette smoke was very weird, but my friend noticed it too. Since it dispersed before our food came it didn't interfere with how I interpreted the food. I still maintain the whole dish was a mess. It was swimming in the heavy sticky sauce, which I perceived to be a port wine reduction with some added demi-glace. It clashed horribly with the mustard sauce that was on the veggies. If you can mash cauliflower with your fork it is indeed overcooked. There can be no disputing that.
I think, on the whole, I prefer a lighter approach to cooking. There were a few too many nut-encrusted dishes and sauce-covered items on the menu to ever tempt me back. I'm glad you enjoyed the food but it is not to my taste and much as I would like to say I would be willing to give it another try, I can't see that happening.
Thank you for the review. I just wanted to say that mussels with tomato sauce is Provençale Mussels with white wine and cream/butter is Mariniere. The detaching of the mussels from the shells is due to rough handling in the broth. This frequently happens when they make large batches.