On a tiny side street hidden in the Financial District sits Café Bastille, as though a quaint, French bistro surrounded by towering concrete blocks was the most natural thing in the world.
Seemingly a world apart from run-down shopfronts (including a window displaying knock-offs of designer bags), Café Bastille not only served French bistro-style food, but looked like one, too. Plastered all over every wall were signs in French for liquors, food, and shows.
When my dining companion said that it was the go-to French bistro (at least in the area near my apartment), I knew the food had to be good.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a francophile, but I do love France and French things. I’ve been to France three times and absolutely love the place. I have not yet encountered any of the things that gave Paris its bad reputation: rude residents, dirty streets (which do not compare to those in San Francisco), petty crime. In fact, I find the Old World architecture beautiful, shopping streets charming, the people (even the waiters) understanding and accommodating.
So when it came to Café Bastille the ultimate question was, how French was the food? The answer: very. It was also very delicious and made me nostalgic for my French holidays.
I don’t have bone marrow often, but when I do, I will continue to get them from Café Bastille. The dish was surprisingly light and not overly rich, seasoned to perfection and served with crisp crackers. I was also surprised at how substantial the Os A Moelle was. I am somewhat ashamed at how fast I wolfed it down.
Moules frites brought back my best memories of my visit to Nice. There was this place my friend and I had gone to for dinner twice because of the all-you-can-eat mussels with bottomless fries for an affordable 14 euros.
I’d picked the simplest preparation so that I could best judge the quality of the mussels. Moules frites at Café Bastille were not as beautifully fresh as those in Nice – they were mostly good, with every six or seven tasting slightly off – but they were yummy nonetheless.
I enjoyed the flavor of the white wine-infused broth very much. It was rich and complex, and if I’d had room in my stomach I would have enjoyed the rest with bread! At Café Bastille, you’ll get your money’s worth: By the time I’d emptied the last shell, I was full to the brim.
But there was no way I would’ve left without a bite of dessert, and the chocolate pear tart is a MUST-TRY!
Underneath tender slices of pear was a thick, rich layer of chocolate ganache that outdoes the chocolate truffles at some Michelin-star restaurants. Topped with a dollop of fluffy whipped cream and a raspberry, each forkful of this luscious tart was a little taste of heaven. If there is a single reason to turn onto French cuisine, Café Bastille’s chocolate pear tart IS. IT.
For the ideal casual meal on a lazy afternoon and relaxed atmosphere, Café Bastille is your best bet if you’re want to visit or re-visit France, are in the Financial District, if you’re in the mood for chocolate, or are just hungry!