Many years have passed since I had a meal at Benny’s Bistro. Early on in our courtship, it was a place Don and I often stopped into for lunch or for brunch during the summer months I was home from university. Our visits were a chance for us to catch up and to sit down to a delicious meal that was also affordable on a working student’s budget. Eventually, life got in the way and, as I made the transition from student to a working adult, our outings there became less and less frequent.
But, a recent and unexpected weekday lunch meeting during the new year brought me back to Benny’s. After an enjoyable meal, I vowed to revisit.
An opportunity presented itself when a good friend and I decided to have lunch in the ByWard Market during last Friday’s snowstorm.
Tucked away in the back of a popular bakery on Murray Street, The French Baker, visitors are typically drawn in by the scent of freshly baked breads and pastries. Inside, more observant visitors are drawn into Benny’s Bistro by the scent of dishes being prepared by its kitchen.
During the weekends, Benny’s serves a long celebrated brunch. During the week, Benny’s serves lunch. There is no regular dinner service.
With a simple one page menu, there is plenty from which to choose. Lunch mains start at $16 and hover around the low $20 range. There are daily specials.
Feeling rather famished, I started with the daily soup special; a cremini mushroom soup ($7).
Accustomed to the archetypal canned cream of mushroom soup, what was placed before me was a delightful surprise. Warm and comforting, each spoonful tasted of a variety of mushrooms. While balanced in its earthiness, hints of truffle made the soup indulgent.
Up next; a filet of pickerel with crispy wontons.
At $19, my bowl of pan roasted Lake Erie pickerel, crispy wontons with a crumbled chorizo sausage filling, squash consomme, and colourful shredded vegetables was delicious. Although the fish was a tad overdone to my taste (I prefer my seared fillets to be slightly rare in the center), it paired well with the crispy wontons, flavourful broth, and slight acidity of the vegetables. My only issue was that I needed a spoon to drink the rest of the broth. Thankfully, our table was furnished with house baked bread.
To finish our meal, my friend and I decided to share a large slice of lemon tart ($8). Unfortunately, dessert was nearly devoured before I realized I had forgotten to take a picture. But, I can tell you that if you love tart lemony treats as I do, this is the dessert for you.
After a six year absence from Benny’s, I won’t be waiting that long again for my next outing. May be I’ll even bring Don along.
Total (including taxes, before tip): $38.42
119 Murray Street