Bisque Café, 125 Neftchilar Avenue, Baku Tel:(+994 12)598 995 www.bisquecafe.az NOW CLOSED
Bisque, according to the dictionary, can refer to a thick fish or vegetable based soup, a special kind of porous pottery such as was used in the manufacture of antique dolls heads, for instance, a free point in real tennis or croquet, a British parliamentary term and a dense nude colour. Why Café Bisque and the fashion shop just along from it, have this name, I have no idea. Perhaps it vaguely refers to the colour palette of the café; I, of course, think of biscuits when I hear it. And, really, I’m not that far off: it’s small, sweet and perfect with coffee. In fact, this pretty little 24 seater is one of my favourite Baku places to meet friends during the day.
On Neftchilar/Bulvar, beside Versace and almost on the corner of Bul Bul, it’s as close as you can get to a typical English tea room as you’re ever going to find outside the UK. In pale muted colours, it has a vaguely 1930s beach house vibe coupled with colour coordinated contemporary art on the walls. It’s cool in summer and very cosy in winter and always calm and cute with its Tiffany style lamps, flowery crockery and stripped floorboards. A secret little oasis, in actual fact. The same sullen looking waiter always awaits you. His service is good even though he gives the impression that any independent thought or even a small smile are too much to ask.
The coffee and small selection of cakes is enticing at Cafe Bisque but there is more to it than that. By Baku standards, the menu is short but it’s all the better for it. They do a nice range of salads, some even for the diet conscious, soups, burgers, risotto, fish, beef and chicken main courses and smoked salmon. It’s all surprisingly tasty, fresh and well prepared. Their fresh fruit and vegetable juices and homemade lemonades are also commendable. On my last visit, I had a spicy chicken salad with nice thin succulent strips of chicken, the chili dressing on the side as I had asked for. My companion had a burger, potato wedges and coleslaw which were pronounced to be excellent. I stole a few of the wedges and must say, they were perfectly crispy and moreish with both mayo and ketchup on offer for dipping. To my great disappointment, Café Bisque’s famous cheesecake was not available on that occasion. Instead there was the choice of Tiramisu, ice cream or baked apple, all of which we passed on because it had to be that cheesecake or nothing. I’m sure they were equally good, though!
The well stocked magazine rack, cool easy listening background music, the open WiFi and not least the obscured sea view framed by shuttered windows make this a comfortable and relaxing little hang out, even if you are by yourself and want to, say, work on your laptop or catch up on your thoughts. Pricing is on the medium side. We paid AZN29 for the burger, the salad, a lemonade, flavoured with citrus and cinnamon, an Americano coffee, and water.