The entrance has had a bit of a revamp, with heavy red velvet curtains separating the reception from the dining area. Besides that, the interior doesn’t seem to have changed much since I last visited, still offering a traditional French bistrot-style experience. Think cosy lighting, shiny wooden tables and chairs, comfy leather sofas and vintage French artwork.
We were served by the same waiter who served us last time I reviewed Le Bistrot Pierre; I remember him well because he was very helpful. He was just as good this time around, greeting us as we arrived and escorting us to a table of our choice, before offering us drinks and giving us a brief overview of the menu.
Le Bistrot Pierre’s menu changes seasonally (Spring/Summer; Autumn/Winter) and I spotted a few additions since I last visited, like wild mullet with ratatouille and honey-glazed pork with puy lentils. The general concept behind the food is still the same, however – comforting, home-cooked French cuisine including popular appetisers and starters, steaks, poultry, meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes, served with a selection of vegetable sides.
To drink, we shared a bottle of St. Jean Vin Rosé, Vin de Pays D’oc (£16.95). This was a dry rosé wine with a subtle hint of raspberries and a touch of spice. It wasn’t too sweet or too bitter – not bad at all, especially as it was the cheapest rosé wine on the menu.
As we pondered over the menu, we shared a basket of sliced, freshly-baked bread served with mini packets of French butter (complimentary with all meals). The bread had a crunchy crust and a soft centre. Paired with the creamy butter, it was very moreish.
To start, I couldn’t resist the sound of the St. Marcellin (£5.50) – a mild, creamy and nutty cheese from Isere, in the Rhone-Alpes region, baked with rosemary and served with pear chutney and sourdough toast. As I really like baked camembert, I figured I’d probably like this too.
The sourdough toast and the cheese were a match made in heaven; the toast was dry and crunchy, but when paired with the smooth, creamy cheese it tasted fantastic. I had to make sure I eat the cheese while it was still warm, as it tends to harden as it cools down, but this wasn’t hard as it was so tasty. The pear chutney was okay, but personally I would’ve preferred something a bit richer – a tomato chutney, perhaps.
My guest began with the moules au Roquefort (£6.95) – rope-grown mussels steamed in a mild Roquefort sauce served with crispy bacon lardons. I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to seafood and I’ve never tried mussels before, but these smelt and looked amazing. My guest thought they tasted great, commenting that the Roquefort sauce was just right – neither too mild nor too cheesy.
For my main course, I ordered the poulet fermier de Normandie (£13.95). This included half a slow-roasted chicken from Normandy, accompanied by dressed salad leaves, pommes frites and a choice of red wine and shallot butter, or green peppercorn and brandy sauce. The chicken is served with the leg and the breast separated, making it easier to eat.
The chicken skin was well-seasoned and deliciously crispy, making a crunching noise as I bit into it. I went for the red wine and shallot butter, which had been poured over the chicken before it arrived at the table. It tasted lovely and definitely complimented the flavours of the dish. Meanwhile, the pommes frites had a golden brown, crispy coating and a soft, fluffy centre, while the salad was dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
My guest chose the same main as I had when I first reviewed Le Bistrot Pierre – the cassoulet d’agneau (£15.50) – slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with lemon, green herb and garlic butter crust accompanied by a cassoulet of smoked bacon, flageolet beans and plum tomatoes. This dish was previously removed from the menu but it has since made a return due to popular demand. I’m not at all surprised; I fell in love with it when I tried it, and it still looks exactly the same as it did then.
According to my guest, the lamb was succulent and tender and it made for a surprisingly filling dish, although the lemon, herb and garlic butter crust was a little too rich for her.
The cassoulet d’agneau was served with a portion of creamy potato dauphinoise in a dainty miniature frying pan, and a small bowl of steamed broccoli, red cabbage and Chantenay carrots.
Once again I was very impressed by the quality of the food, the attentive service and the relaxed atmosphere at Le Bistrot Pierre, and I will definitely be returning in the future.
Le Bistrot Pierre
The Old Brewery Quarter
(029) 2034 5990