What is associated with bistro-style food?!

Question: What is associated with bistro-style food?
I'm trying to put together a bistro style dinner party menu. What sorts of flavors/foods/items/culinary styles are associated w/ bistros?

For me, what comes to mind right now are fresh seasonal ingredients, a little more upscale, and also French-inspired (though I don't know how to narrow that down)

What sorts of things are associated with bistro-style menus, and what items are an absolute MUST


I always think of bistro food as hearty neighborhood fare. Onion soup is a must. So is beef bourguignon, maybe a cabbage casserole and a good eclair for dessert. Of course a bood wine yp go with the dinner. In some areas of France also a lamb stew or something similar might be appropriate.

If you prefer not to have dessert roasting in the oven as you eat, you can also roast the pears in advance and reheat.

Forty minutes before dinner: Heat oven to 400°F. Prepare salad greens and mix dressing ingredients (keep them separate for now). Cut carrots; mince shallots and herbs for flank steak. Peel and core pears, arrange in baking dish, and drizzle with honey and wine.

Twenty minutes before dinner: Put carrots on to simmer. Sear steak; finish in oven. Take steak from oven and tent with foil. Immediately lower oven temperature to 375°F and put pears in to roast. Make pan sauce for steak.

Just before sitting down to dinner: Toss carrots with fresh herbs and adjust seasoning. Slice steak. Toss salad with dressing. Remove cream from refrigerator to come to room temperature.

Pears will continue to roast for 40 to 45 minutes during dinner (check them once to baste).

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