Antigua, GT: Bistro Cinq
Bistro Cinq is a French restaurant that uses organic ingredients whenever possible. The standard French fare can have a few local touches such as guisquil soup. A late brunch starting at noon is offered on the weekends.
Bistro Cinq recently added an ‘absinth bar’. Actually it is just their regular bar area and they serve a few types of absinth.
There’s a chalk board at the door that lists daily specials. Menus are available in Spanish and English.
I had no intention of trying Bistro Cinq this visit because I can go to a French restaurant anywhere and it gets enough attention in guide books and such.
However, a local restaurant card I bought from "Que Pasa" had a two for one offer on appetizers.
I have to give them credit in that they didn't blink an eye and thought I was just going to order the apps. I could have left BC only spending 60 quetzales, about $7.50.
The food was better than my pictures make it look.
Link with more info such as address, phone, hours and menu
Here's what I had rated from A+ to F -
B …... Complimentary bread and butter
B + … Griddled calamari, garlic, capers, EVOO
C - … Seared octopus, garbanzos, potatoes and lemon
B - ….English pea ravioli, spinach, zucchini and parmesan broth
B - ….Warm goat cheese and raisin samosas, rum raisin ice cream
B - …. House wine
A - … Water
Service: B … Above average
Ambiance: B + … Very, very good
Another poster’s report on Bistro Cinq
Restaurant record with more info such as address, phone, hours and menu
Flickr photostream with more pictures
I am actually curious about that Que Pasa card. I have looked at the website and it looks to be a great deal, even just for a week. I was wondering how it worked though. We are going to be 3 couples traveling together so would we each have to get our own card or could we share it? Would that be tacky? Would the establishments frown on us all showing up together and getting the discount?
Also, can I order it from the states? How would I pick it up?
Yeah, the whole card thing is weird.
The only place to pick it up is at the Que Pasa office They give you a temporary card and take your photo for a permanent card which took about a month to get.
When I said this was really inconvenient, the guy I talked to said they were more interested in selling to locals and making it and insiders type of thing rather than a tourist. thing. They seemed to think it wouldn't be all that much of a deal for tourists blowing in for a few days.
I disagree. After using it for two restaurants I got my money back. Also, I never would have stopped at the charming, if ecentric Cargo Room (tangerine foam is on the menu) or discovered the joys of the smoked fish at Bacchus Cigar Lounge.
Anyway the link in the OP has an email address, so you could always contact them. Que Pasa, a free magazine, has a nice map and some good info inside. Also pick up a copy of Review, another good magazine.
There's a different free card from Antigau Daily called the Priviledge Card that you can pick up at the restaurants that use it.
There's not as many offers and some of the same. I picked mine up at La Esquina which has an interesting-looking BBQ on Sundays. I haven't tried that yet, but I liked the Friday special dinner made by a chef who worked at the Michelan starred restaurant Hisop in Barcelona, Spain.
BTW, the restaurant reviews on Antigua Daily are really unreliable and suck. If you want to know for the most part where NOT to eat, look at the restaurants people rave about there. Yuck.
The Antigua Daily Priviledge card has a nice map though. It is folded up in the middle of the card, so you have a full-sized city map that folds out from the card. There are also emergency numbers such as the police and hospital on the card should that be necessary.
Another place to check is this site with many restaurant menus
Las Velas at the Hotel Camino Real doesn't seem to have it's Sunday brunch offer this month, but if you see it, I highly recommend it. I recommend it even without the discount ... one of the best buffet brunches I've ever had. It is pricey though ... $27.50 ... but so worth it. The deal they were running was buy one brunch get the second half off.
If the three of you are planning to buy three cards, sit together and ask for separate checks ... well, that wouldn't be good form and I'm not sure if the restaurants would go for that. Besides, most of the deals are 2 for 1, so you wouldn't be gaining that much.
BISTRO CINQ DETAILS
COMPLIMENTARY BREAD AND BUTTER: Service: B … Above average
The long baguettes were in a nice napkin lined basket. The crust had some chew to it and it wasn’t the usual Wonder Bread type of bread that is served in other restaurants. It was also sliced to order and not precut and drying out … another local habit of other places
It only slipped a grade because they heated it in a toaster oven and it diminished the texture slightly. This is fresh, very good bread and serving it without heating would be the better way to go. When I finished the bread, I was offered more.
This is also one of the few local restaurants that doesn’t serve wrapped pats of butter. It was good quality and tasty.
GRIDDLED CALAMARI, GARLIC, CAPERS, EVOO: B + … Very, very good
The calamari was very fresh and perfectly cooked. The sauce was tasty and worth mopping up with the bread. The dish was nicely finished with chopped herbs.
SEARED OCTOPUS, “GARBANZOS, POTATOES” ,LEMON: C - … Slightly below average
The octopus seemed smoked, but it was dry and watery. It was not warm, but room temperature. The last thing I want is off octopus.
The menu description was also off. It came mixed with greens and chopped tomatoes which were dressed in vinaigrette. That part was fine. Not a potato or garbanzo to be found.
ENGLISH PEA RAVIOLI, spinach, zucchini and parmesan broth: B - … Very good
This was nice and exactly the portion size I wanted since the apps were large and I wasn’t that hungry.
Three large ravioli in delicate wrappers encased the very fresh vegetables and IIRC, there was some cheese like ricotta in the filling. The broth was tasty enough but it didn’t bowl me over.
WARM GOAT CHEESE AND RAISIN SAMOSAS, rum raisin ice cream: B - … Very good
This was better than I expected. I was curious about the samosas for dessert. They were very light and flakey with a nice filling. For some reason I’ve had a lot of bad rum raisin ice cream in Guatemala. This was very good, creamy and fresh. Not mentioned was the mora or local blackberry sauce which actually was a nice compliment.
HOUSE WINE: B - … Very good
It was a pleasant wine and inexpensive and served in a pretty carafe. Bistro Cinq has a better wine selection than most local restaurants.
WATER: A - … Way above average
Sure, it’s silly to rate water. However, in Guatemala it is annoying that some places only served bottled water for a charge and then plop the bottle down on the table. So places that serve complimentary water … with ice … get points, except Fonda de la Calle Real which served us tap water.
This was not only free, it was stylishly presented.
SERVICE: B … Above average
The service was professional and what is expected in a French restaurant. The staff was knowledgeable about both the food and wine. They were on top of things. Orders, food, replenishments and check were prompt.
AMBIANCE: B + … Very, very good
This is a stylish restaurant. An open kitchen is at the front. Next to it is the bar. The large vaulted dining room has tables with white tablecloths, candles and flowers.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to try Bistro Cinq. Here’s the thing though.
If I didn’t pay attention to the language, this could be a nice French restaurant in San Francisco, my home. I was really digging that ambiance after months of virtually living in the jungle here.
So the food is good, the restaurant lovely and the service professional. However, if visiting Guatemala, do you want to spend your limited number of meals at a restaurant you can find at home?
For some, the answer may be yes and if so, Bistro Cinq is a very nice French restaurant.
Has anyone been to Como Como? It's rated no. 1 on Tripadvisor but I haven't found any mention of it on Chow. I guess it's French also.
We don't really have French restaurants where I live so I am excited to eat some French food, even if it is in Guatemala. I just want good food, whatever and wherever it is.
And Orange...it's my 3rd time to Antigua but in the past I did not have the food budget I would have liked to have.
Como, Como .... sucks, sucks.
I'll try to write it up in a few days. It was the major disappointment of my week in Antigua ... and I have to tell you I made some LOUSY choices. So for this to take first places, says something ... ok, Donde Monica, and Cafe Mediterrenio Hostel were contenders.
It's supposed to be Belgium. I felt like I was at a child's tea party it was so amaturish. I loved the fresh whipped cheese appetizers ...Phily. When they offered more of the dinner rolls that were fhard from being reheated along with off tasting better, it was all I could do not to say, "God, no". The waiter curtsied (I kid you not) and took off.
They are very, very ... very nice people. So my official report won;t be quite as honest ... more ephamistic. They were so nice, I wasn't going to write a report at first. I mean businss is tough in Gautemal this year. But then there are people who might get sucked in by some of the positive stuff, so I'm going to srite it ... as nicely as I can. I figure this post will get buried,, so I'm a little more blunt here.
From what I read, they had a different concept when they started, but it's Guatemala. These places don't make it from the tourists. They are all at Fonda de la Calle Real (seriously, don't do it). So, I'm sure they needed to change because the locals didn't get the concept.
And, IMO, the much touted Cafe Meditereno nearby isn't all that either. And a few doors down ... Travel Menu, ... ugh
Interesting on that street (6th calle) is the little Cafe next to Travel Menu. I think they only open for lunch and peeking in, it looked pretty authentic. La Esquina has a Sunday bbq. On Friday night they have a chef who was at Hisop in Barcelona, a Michelen starred restaurant. His menu is only availble Friday nights. He really did some clever and tasty twists on Guatemalan food. Cargo Room has good sangrea and is a really off-beat joint. Worth it to stop for a drink a take in the decor. Tokyo Baru, which I thought was closed does some Dutch cooking. It is really a tiny hole in the wall, but I want to check it out next time.
Otherwise, it wasn't a great week in Antigua food-wise. I can mainly tell you where not to go.
If you want fab French baked goods, go to Epicure. Their menu is more deli, but wonder, wonderful baked goods. The cheese rolls are terrific. Absolutely great croissants. If they were in my hometown at SF, they'd be one of the top French bakeries. If you go for breakfast, they have omelets. They have one of the prettiest outdoor areas way in back ... and this is in a city that has drop-dead gorgeous patios.
If you are there on a Saturday, you gotta go to the tamale lady in front of La Repositoria bakery at 5:30. You gotta get there at that time because she sells out fast. Get some pan Frances from the bakery and have yourself a great meal. The bakery also makes great shecos, a anise=flavored roll.
I can't recommend highly enough the Sunday brunch at Las Vellas. It is $27.50, but one of the better buffet brunches I've ever had in my life.
One palce you might check out, at least for breakfast, is Casa Santo Domingo. I kept getting constant recs from locals. It turns out they are one of the restaurants taht will be competing in Bocuse d'Or, in Lyon France this yeaar. Reading this article, the way it is run, really impresses me\
Sabe Rico remains one of my favorites. I finally got what Hector's was all about. Very cool little cafe.
Sadly, I still don't have all my pictures uploaded, but I should get that done by the end of the week. Here's my Flickr collection on Antiga which I will bea dding to.
Herels a list of top tastes in Guatemala for 2010 which sort of summerizes everything
I forgot Cafe Christophe where I had a really terrific Swiss rachelette (Monday nights only). They do mainly Italian, but what I had on Monday really impressed me and I want to go back someday and try something else. I think they bake some Swiss breads for breakfast.
We ate at Bistrot Cinq our very last night in Antigua. I had been dying to go and so after watching the Super Bowl at Monoloco we headed over to BC for a late dinner. They were none too pleased to see us since it was almost 9:30 but there were a couple other tables still seated and we told them we would eat fast.
The food and drinks were awesome. My friend had a drink called Morphine which was green Chartreuse, St Germaine, and ginger syrup and she loved it. We have plans on making it at home.
The food was delicious. We ordered a number of dishes very quickly (they really wanted to close) and shared everything. The squid ink fettuccine with a creamy truffle sauce stood out, as did the tuna tartar and the foie gras. We really wished we had gone earlier in our stay so that we could have returned once more.
They did almost refuse to serve us dessert since it was about 10:15pm and they close at 10pm. But the server must have reconsidered because he came back and offered us a choice of 3 desserts. All the ones that did not require any preparation....
It was pricey for Antigua....
Thanks for taking the time to blog about us we really appreciate it. Since your visit we have added 10 more absinthe's and another absinthe fountain, we also have acquired a few more organic and sustainable farmers, which is always tricky here in Guatemala.
We also update our menus weekly and offer new items based upon local growing seasons and availability.
If your travels find you back down here, stop in say hello
all the best,
owner Bistrot Cinq
Bistrot Cinq...very cozy & comfortable, with a relaxed vibe. Calamari was delicious, as was the steak frites (good bearnaise), and english pea ravioli. I was sorely tempted to dine here two nights in a row; in retrospect, a repeat of Bistrot Cinq would have been a better choice than a meal at Panza Verde.