October 04 Revised March 2013
Bistro 56 is an up market restaurant in the up market Arena mall. Park in the yellow area of the mall's underground parking lot and take the elevator straight up to the restaurant on level 1. Access is wheelchair friendly. Parking is free.
Bistro 56 is a spacious restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant boasts an expansive deck overlooking the mall plaza and the picturesque boat marina.
The lovely indoor area is modern and sleek. There is a variety of seating options at tables, banquettes, and if you like to watch the cooking, at the counter of the open kitchen. We think of this as a California style restaurant, with open space, comfortable seating, modern decor and a relaxed but classy atmosphere.
Bistro 56 offers a delicious Mediterranean menu with a pleasant balance of meat, fish and vegetable dishes in each course. From start to finish, from the decor to the dessert, Bistro 56 is a very satisfying experience and one of our favorite restaurants. We are not alone. Reservations are a must at Bistro 56. Though there are several hundred seats in the restaurant it is always full.
My dinner companion and I chose a snug indoor table for two, on the outdoor deck. The menu, in sturdy holders, is available in both Hebrew and English.
I was planning to start with the Bistro 56 Buffalo Wings, because I remember them fondly from previous visits, but on second thought I considered having something that I haven't had there before. The waiter strongly recommended the grilled goose liver, and he was right.
The grilled goose liver is not a large starter, but it is delicious. There is one liver, buttery soft, on a brioche (small sweet roll) sliced width-wise in three. The liver is on top of the middle section, with a generous topping of sweet fruit syrup and capped with the brioche, soaked in the syrup. There is a ring of pineapple on the lower section of the brioche which adds another flavor. I will remember that dish for quite a while.
I considered trying a new dish for the main course. The hamburger looked tempting, but the waiter gave me a "Why waste your time?" look. He suggested the filet steak. Sometimes I think they are just trying to upsell you but since the steak was not the most expensive dish on the menu, I considered his recommendation. I frequently find steak tasteless, fatty and hard to chew. He assured me that the filet steak was tasty, not fatty and soft, so I went for it He was right again.
The filet was a large conical steak with very little fat. It was tasty, especially with the gravy that went very well with the rice and vegetable side on the same plate. It was easy to chew, and not underdone, even though I had ordered it medium. The piece was large enough that I would have been happy to share it with someone else, but there were no other carnivores at my table. I rarely have a steak that I enjoy this much.
My dining companion does not eat meat, but there is such a variety at Bistro 56 she has no problem figuring out a satisfying meal. Instead of a starter, she started with the vegetable lasagna main dish. It was not at all the pasta-heavy dish one would expect from a lasagna It consists of eggplant, grilled peppers and mushrooms in tomato sauce. The menu says that there is a crust of garlic bread, but the crust seemed almost imperceptible. The flavor was dominated by the vegetables and tomato sauce, without the heavy feeling of lasagna noodles. This is just the way my companion likes to eat. We recommend this dish highly.
For her main, my companion had the recommended fish dish. This was a whole fish, head and all, beautifully prepared and lusciously presented. My companion has no patience to dig between the bones, so after she consumed the easy parts I had my way with the fish. Though I love the meat dishes at Bistro 56, this fish was a definite contender.
What is the significance of the number "56," we asked. This restaurant opened in Israel's 56th year. We are about to celebrate its 65th year and Bistro 56 is still going strong. From the way it looks, eLuna will be happy to visit this restaurant again, well into the millennium.
Bistro 56 prides itself on the desserts, which are outstanding parve delicacies made exclusively for the restaurant by the in-house pastry chef. We did not have a dessert on this visit to the restaurant, but next time we will not miss out.
Bistro 56 has seating for up to 160 people. There is a separate party room for about 40 guests that any young boy or girl will be thrilled with for a family Bar or Bat Mitzva party. Think of this private room for corporate events, birthday parties, sheva brachot, etc.