Bistronomie — a word you won’t find in the dictionary — is the downward shift of culinary luminaries from out-of-reach multi-Michelin-star fine dining establishments to the smaller, elegant intimacy of the bistro. Now features in the new Evita Bistronomie in District 2, AsiaLIFE reports, photos by Jonny Edbrooke
Bistronomie combines gastronomy with the bistro, and given that the term gastronomy stems from the Greek, meaning “rules of the stomach”, its combination with bistro suggests a new set of rules for fine fare. The logic of bistronomie is that bistro food gets elevated to fine culinary status, and fine dining becomes more accessible. That’s the theory: the democratisation of haute cuisine, and it has landed in Saigon.
What is a bistro?
Bistros are iconic of Parisian dining, emblematised by creaseless white tablecloths around which comfortable chairs beckon, and carefully placed crockery and glassware glint invitingly from the warm cozy ambience. And of course, you can expect table service. This means bistros are not cafes. They are also not fine dining. They are not restaurants. Hovering between these institutions, bistros aren’t easy to define but you know one when you’re there enjoying the attention to detail and small-scale decadence.
The definition of the word bistro, if we trust the Oxford English Dictionary, is surprisingly bland: A small wine-shop, bar, or restaurant. This goes against almost everything you’ll read on the internet and hear uttered by chefs. Perhaps the good wordsmiths at the OED are not food fanatics. Far more romantic is the contention that the word bistro came about when Russian Cossacks stormed Paris in the 19th century. Apparently they charged through dining establishments yelling the Russian word for quickly, “bystro! bystro!” Quickly enough, the word was taken up by Parisians to describe the establishments themselves, rather than the provocation.
For many young chefs, the concept of bistronomie summed up an ardent desire to drop the astronomical prices and stuffy atmospheres of top-class Michelin outfits in favour of humbler, more convivial fare. The idea is to try your hand at gastronomic dishes in a bistro setting. One of these pioneer chefs is Nic Vanderbeeken
The place where you can get throughout the year —– and throughout the day — a comfortable homey feel and delicious food.
Growing up Nic Vanderbeeken always had a strong passion for cooking and enjoyed making people smile with his exquisite and creative dishes. After graduating Nic completed his internship with Celebrity chef Wout Bru at the Michelin-Star restaurant Bistro d’Eygaliere in France. After this Nic worked restaurant ‘t Convent of chef Rudi Devolder and also Michelin-star restaurant “Berto” of chef David Bertolozzi. In 2010 Nic opened his own very successful bistronomy restaurant in Belgium ‘Bistro Biggles’.
Strong desire to widen his horizon and explore new challenges made him pack his knives, leave all his ‘established’ life behind and start a new chapter in Ho Chi Minh City – formerly known as Saigon.
He met Alexander Egert and started working for him at the renowned Camargue restaurant. Looking for a venue to introduce Bistronomy to Asia and in particular to Vietnam he came across Café Evita – another of Alexander’s restaurants – and felt straight away that this is the perfect match to showcase bistronomie kitchen.
Café Evita is named after the daughter of Alexander and Thy and is a bistro just in front of the British school situated in District 2. A bright, welcoming space with cozy couches, it is filled at noon with teachers and students and expats living in the area, while at night the upstairs Evita Bistronomie is a perfect dining place with a bistronomie menu where Chef Nic can use his creativity and passion for food to create the best dishes in the area. The result is fine dining on a budget always stunningly good and as hard to predict as his personality.