Optimistically Cautious

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Well-Kept Secret: Backstreet Bistro

Always looking for untried lunch spots within walking distance of my workplace, I finally had some time on Thursday to patronize Backstreet Bistro (10055 106 Street).

With a street entrance literally tucked in an alleyway, I can honestly say that I didn’t notice this restaurant, located on the ground floor of the HSBC Tower, until just a few weeks ago when I happened to look to my right while walking east on Jasper Avenue. As I would find out, most of the customers there were regulars who worked in the building, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the existence of the eatery is still something of a best-kept secret.

I arrived at a quarter past eleven, and was greeted by an empty restaurant – I had beaten the rush! The very friendly owner joked about reserving the entire place for me, and encouraged me to take my time with the menu boards, which were hung just above the order counter. Backstreet Bistro serves up breakfast fare weekdays from 7-10am, and lunch at 11, with midday selections of sandwiches, noodle soups, and chef special vermicelli plates, priced between $7-10. After some perusal, I decided to go with the Charbroiled Beef ($7.25).

While waiting for my food, I was able to watch the trickle of patrons come through the door. The rapport the owner had with the majority of the customers reminded me very much of Amy of Chicken for Lunch fame, as he referred to his regulars as “VIPs”, sometimes topping off their orders with a little extra.

My dish arrived in no time, garnished with a sprig of parsley and plated with a surprising amount of care. I had requested a "mild” level of spice, so the amount of hot sauce drizzled over the beef was, in my opinion, closer to full-on “spicy” than anything else. But other than that, I had no complaints – the little bits of charcoal that clung to the flat, pounded slices of beef added a wonderful smoky flavour to the dish, and the pickled carrots, cut into jagged fry-like slices, added an additional crunch and sour bite to the mix.

In the end, I was comfortably full, with a seemingly well-balanced meal that didn’t feel at all greasy. Unfortunately, Backstreet Bistro is only open during the day, but if you’re in the area, be sure to stop in for a good lunch that won’t break the bank.




Charbroiled Beef and Spring Rolls

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