2 Aug 2021

Feeling Right at Home at Mathilde French Bistro

A visit to Mathilde French Bistro is akin to breaking bread and sharing relaxed conversations with old friends.

“We treat people like they’re guests at our home. We’re here to take care of them,” said owner Lina Yew. “We want people to come in, forget about everything else and feel like they’re back among friends.”

The bistro has been hosting friends for the past 27 years at its 315 5th St. location in San Francisco, on the edge of the Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. Thierry Clement, who is Yew’s husband, has served as chef for the past 10 years.

During the bistro’s nearly three-decade existence, Yew has witnessed the evolution of a neighborhood that once thrived from such businesses as the San Francisco Chronicle, Wells Fargo, warehouses and photography studios to one dominated by the tech boom.

“Sometimes you get nostalgic and you miss the old customers, but then you always have new people coming,” Yew said.

What hasn’t changed in nearly three decades is Mathilde’s commitment to French cuisine — from roasted bone marrow to onion soup, from coq a vin to duck leg confit.

“We are traditional French bistro faire,” Yew said. “We are not inventing anything new. We are doing old-fashioned, bistro-style.”

And they obviously do it very well. Yew says the regular clientele that Mathilde has built up over the years come from all over San Francisco, the Bay Area and from all corners of the world. Whether on business or pleasure, overseas visitors often make return trips to the bistro and then recommend it to their friends.

Yew trained for nearly a year in Paris and the South of France, before returning to San Francisco to work at Fleur de Lys and other renowned restaurants.

Mathilde French Bistro started out as a happy, little accident.

While working at now-defunct Fleur de Lys, Yew started a catering business with a partner. They specifically rented out the space on 5th Street for its kitchen to boost their fledgling enterprise.

But one thing led to another, and the bistro came into existence — and thrived.

“How many places can say they’ve lasted 27 years, in any part of the city?” Yew said. “Not bad.”

For the menu, reservations and more information, visit mathildesf.com.