Whenever I go to Bijou, I tell myself I must come here more often. That’s easy to say, but the cosy Bistro is not exactly near me. I must march across Granton, through Leith, over the Links and to Restalrig.
It’s worth it, though. Each and every time, it’s worth it. I’ve never managed to book, but booking is advisable as it can fill up, and I have chanced walked-ins only to be turned away. I’ve not managed to book because this lovely food sits somewhere in my brain between casual and rendezvous. I’d never book the former, always the latter.
So, unequivocably; it’s on me, and I must make an effort to come more often and not just chance it on a whim. I’m sharing this with you as my recommendation is the same; don’t leave it to impulse; there can’t be many people who pass idly down Restalrig, see the Bistro and pop in, so visiting Bijou likely requires some coordination.
Bijou Bistro’s food
I’ve had all sorts of food from Bijou, from fancy plum deserts to the humble but dramatically tasty chicken burger. The name “Bijou Bistro” makes me think of French food, but I’m not sure the menu is overwhelmingly French.
If French food is synonymous with quality, then perhaps that’s more appropriate as the food here is always top-notch, interesting and rewarding.
My usual tip about remembering to check the special board stands with this Bistro. It’s up on the wall by the serving counter/mini bar area. If you get in just as the doors open for lunch, then you might find the specials aren’t always read, at least that’s happened to me before, and I take it as reassuring evidence that everything is made fresh.
There are enough choices for starters, mains and tempting desserts for discussion and to maximise your chances of finding something that calls to you. It’s never a colossal menu; we’re not talking about pages of food with a numbering system to help you order. There are three or four options per course; again, I take this as a reassurance of high quality and low food waste.
I’ve been to the Bistro a half dozen times and never once had anything less than excellent food.
Bijou Bistro’s vibe
I’ve mentioned that I’ve risked trying my luck to get my solo-eating backside into a chair at a table during the weekend, only to find that the Bistro is booked out, which is also a reassuring sign of quality. There’s been many of those in this review.
The Bistro isn’t a venue that tourists will wander by as they explore Edinburgh so that it gets busy is evidence that locals think highly of it. The vibe feels friendly too, like an oasis between neighbourhoods, comfortable and close, never riotous even when crowded.
The staff are great here and invested. In fact, I think most times, it will be the owner who’ll likely greet you, get your food and check everything is okay. If you’ve time for a spot of banter, that’s great, and there’s no shortage of charisma in this comfortable corner.
Bijou Bistro is perfect for date nights and meeting friends visiting the city, and if you’re planning on visiting a Leith Links event in the summer, then the restaurant is perfect. Book, though! Book!
Visit Bijou for good food without the faff, without the snobbery and without getting overwhelmed. However, visit Bijou for something more up-market and a bit more niche than a cafe. I have had a chicken burger here, but that’s the exception, not the rule, as I often find myself drawn to their well-prepared fish (despite walking through Newhaven to get here).
Overall, I should have written this review years ago. I’m setting myself a target of going back at least once more before summer 2023 begins and then a few more times before the end of the year.