The French Institute’s on-site restaurant, Le Bideew, is a perennial Dakar favourite, and one of the prettiest spots downtown to catch up with friends over lunch or dinner. Hot pink bougainvillea spills into the courtyard, flanked by fat baobab trees and swathes of greenery. There’s usually an art exhibition in the open air, or you can combine a trip to Le Bideew with live music or a film at the adjacent cultural institute.
There are about forty tables in the courtyard, most of which are under a canopy that stays cool even in the hottest summer weather. It’s a great spot for a big dinner with friends, or just a simple glass of wine in the early evening. Two nights a week, Le Bideew offers special deals, such as wine and cheese nights or local tastings.
The salad menu is usually a hit, and if you’re into Senegalese seafood, the calamari and octopus salad (‘duo de poulpes et calamars’) is a winner. There’s also a tangy tuna salad made with french chunks of pan-grilled tuna steak, and a delicious hot goats’ cheese salad with sliced almonds. A word of warning: it can be hard to stick to the salad list when the meat dishes are so good, and many expats swear that Le Bideew’s selection of veggie and meat burgers is among the best in Dakar. Don’t expect the finest American burgers, but delicious cuts of meat nonetheless.
Le Bideew has a lengthy cocktail list and a good selection of wines, best enjoyed against a backdrop of music from the open-air concert hall across the way. The French Institute’s music events tend to sell out quickly, so those who fail to get tickets often settle for dinner at Le Bideew, within listening distance, instead. In our opinion, sitting back with a glass of wine and a plate of delicious food is sometimes a much better option. And if you’re not drinking alcohol, don’t miss the bissap-ginger juice; a blend of fresh hibiscus and Senegalese ginger that’s more refreshing than anything that comes in a can.