French cuisine is a palate-expanding experience everyone should have. But when one is in Malé without an access to one of those maginifique Ladurée macarons, a visit to Rah’dhebai Magu is all it takes. La.B Bistro, formerly known as La Boulangerie, is a French inspired bistro which gives you a glimpse into what it is like to dine in Paris (with hints of Maldivian specialties in between).
While this quaint little bistro is famous for their finely made desserts, their macarons are out of this world, and they keep the customers going back for more. This is something the owner, Salman Hussain, takes pride in. Making macarons is certainly not an easy feat – it takes just the right temperature, ingredients and consistency to bring out the perfect little delights. They have experimented with unusual flavors like coconut and kanamadhu – quelle surprise!
At La.B Bistro, high-quality ingredients are sourced and flown in to provide customers the best experience. Every little thing is painstakingly made with full-on attention to the minor details, presentation and taste, but not only does La.B Bistro deliver, they exceed one’s expectations.
This is no small wonder, coming from an excellent team which includes Salman himself, who has over 18 years of experience in the industry and has benefited from the privilege of being the first ever Maldivian apprentice to work at Four Seasons. His education, travels and experience combined together brings the perfect recipes to the table, where his Head Chef, who has over 25 years of practice in the field, brings them to life.
“Baking is not something simple. It requires patience, and you need to have a lot of practice, knowledge and precision for the product to come out the way you want. We assure our customers that we have studied this and been trained properly – we know what we are doing,” said Salman.
The fancy breads you see on their display? They are made from scratch. In fact, everything at La.B Bistro is made from scratch, and they make sure to stick to quality and standard. “My chefs keep consistency, not just throughout the recipe. The food is properly checked and if it is not in good condition, we reject it. For us, the most important thing is customer satisfaction.” They have a variety of fresh, unique and delicious sandwiches at the same time. Some noteworthy recommendations are the BLT (Turkey bacon, lettuce and — cue drum roll — TUNA!) and the Focaccia Burger made from their homemade Italian bread, and a juicy homemade patty with herbs and spices.
Speaking of sandwiches, they are keen on catering to school canteens as well. “We want to encourage young children to eat well. We also want to mark ourselves as a catering brand, and provide them with fresh food. A few offers have already been made, so we are looking forward to it.” They have already started rolling out breakfast and lunch dishes which have gained a popular following within a short period of time.
Their specialty still remains in desserts, and they are always experimenting to bring something new to the table. One of their best desserts includes the “Banbukeyo Bondibaiy Puff”, which is essentially a pastry inspired by a local favorite, and served with homemade coconut ice-cream. The result is something so heavenly, one serving might not be enough. For the skeptics: the banbukeyo bondibaiy brings about a nostalgic taste – it does not waver from the ones your grandma makes at all. The best part is, the banbukeyo is homegrown at Salman’s house, fresh and ready for serving. And the coconut ice-cream? Simply divine, with a secret recipe everyone would want to get their hands on.
Two more desserts to be highlighted are the “French Toast Brioche” and the “Pecan Tart.” The brioche is soft and amazingly crunchy at the same time, and served with whipped cream, maple syrup and strawberries.
As for the pecan tart, it is generously sized and so flavorful – you do not want to share this. A noticeable aspect to talk about is how soft and firm the base of the tart is. Typically, most people get the texture completely wrong which results in it becoming extremely hard and chewy but at La.B Bistro, they seem to have nailed it perfectly.
La.B Bistro achieves a favorable balance between the price and quality, and offers a space in which you can opt for a takeaway or sit with a book in one hand, a cuppa tea in the other. Few things in life are as comforting as this – after all, dessert does make everything better.
Words by Nashwa Saeed
Photos by La.B Bistro