Review: Le Bistrot Pierre
Le Bistrot Pierre
Swan's Nest, Bridgefoot, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 7LT. Tel: 01789 264 804. www.lebistrotpierre.co.uk
Everyone loves a good offer, especially in these recession-hit times; BOGOFs, happy hours, interest free credit, ‘voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir’...
I had always thought the best one ever was in the early 80s when kids could travel anywhere on West Midlands Travel buses for 2p... Anywhere. For 2p. We used to catch the bus to the corner shop, simply because we could.
I think I have found an ever better deal now, however (besides, I stopped qualifying for half fare in 1985).
In an attempt to liven up midweek trade, Le Bistrot Pierre have a couple of ever changing, great value set menus.
On selected Tuesdays it’s their Soirée Gastronomique; £20.90 will get you six courses of Gallic-flavoured loveliness, while on certain Wednesdays you can ‘Dine with Wine’ – three courses and three glasses of specially selected wine for £25.90.
Okay, so it’s not McDonald’s Happy Meal prices, but they are meals that will make you happy – and you get cutlery.
They’re clearly onto a winner; when we visited on a recent Tuesday Soirée Gastronomique, the place was packed. The majority of diners were, shall we say, of a more senior persuasion – well, I’m 41 and I felt positively young.
Whether that’s because younger people tend to eat out at weekends or middle aged people are more partial to a bargain, I don’t know.
Whatever age, sex or hair colour, you can’t help but be impressed. The fixed price menu offered soup, deep fried goat’s cheese and chutney, followed by either duck breast or rump steak; sticky toffee pudding, cheese and biscuits and coffee. All for under 21 quid.
While it sounded fab, neither Goodly Other Half or I could face six courses, so opted for the à la carte menu which happily is also available on the night.
The bistro itself has a great riverside spot, which will be lovely in the summer; our visit sadly coincided with weather which flicked between snow, sleet, rain and fog, so we couldn’t enjoy the views but did appreciate the warm, bustling atmosphere as we shook off our coats and sat down. The décor is neutral and unfussy, with the odd little piece of French art dotted on the walls. The seating is a mixture of banquettes and chairs, some padded, some hard wooden seats. We got the latter. By the end of the night my backside had less feeling in it than the Terminator. When you book, go banquette.
There’s a great hum of activity about the place, like a French brasserie should be. The staff flit between tables without fuss – and somehow without banging the backs of chairs (the tables are packed in pretty close in places).
The menu is not the biggest but there is enough choice, with a few French classics (toasted brioche, Toulouse sausage, moules marinières etc) and plenty of other temptations.
GOH started with sardines grillées – nice fresh butterflied sardines with a zingy lime foam – while my fromage grillé was a dinky pot of creamy, nutty St Marcelin cheese, some fingers of sourdough toast and a healthy dollop of pear chutney. A good choice, and not too filling.
We ummed and aahed for what seemed like ages over main course; both of us eyed up the Boeuf braisé à la Bourguignonne (which was Scottish, but you can’t expect every ingredient to be Gallic can you), the mussels, the pork with caramelised apples...
Eventually I surrendered (well it was a French restaurant) and GOH had the beef, while I went for the shoulder of lamb. Neither of us was disappointed. The dish of beef was hearty, chunks of the tender pasture-fed meat in a gorgeous shallot, red wine, mushroom and bacon sauce which cried out to be mopped up with bread. I’d have liked my hunk of lamb to have been a little more pink, but with a crisp skin and juicy heart, it packed good flavour, especially with the occasional hit from the Roquefort butter. The minted pea purée was more of a crushed pea affair and only subtly flavoured, but went well with the meat and veg, which we shared; great creamy Dauphinoise potatoes, al dente courgettes and tangy red cabbage. It’s one of those vegetables you don’t think of doing yourself, but when you have it out at a restaurant, wish you ate it more.
Pudding was very decent – I managed to resist my usual crème brulée fix and enjoyed a small pot of rhubarb and apple crumble with crème anglaise, while GOH scored a winner with tangy lemon tart and raspberry sorbet. My favourite dish of the night, I think.
With a very good bottle of Chilean Merlot a shade over £16, the bill just tipped £60. Okay, we could have had the fixed price menu and saved a couple of quid, but we want an excuse to go back and tackle the six courses another time. Not that we need an excuse.
The next Soirée Gastronomique is March 9; Dine With Wine is on March 17.