I had never visited French food chain Le Bistrot Pierre until I was invited to sample the food at their latest addition on Caroline Street in Cardiff. Those of you who know Cardiff will probably know the location better as Chippy Lane, notorious for fights and filthy late night fast food. However, Le Bistrot Pierre isn’t nestled in amongst the chip shops, it’s on the corner of the Brewery Quarter, a popular area for those who like their well known chain bars and restaurants and it fits in well with its neighbours.
Le Bistrot Pierre say that they are a chain but that each restaurant is styled individually. This particular establishment was well designed with leather look booths, vintage French style furniture and street lamps not unlike rivals Cafe Rouge and Browns but it definitely had that ‘chain feel’ about it.
We went on a Tuesday which meant we were able to sample the Soirée Gastronomique; a six course set menu for £22.95. Sounds like a bargain eh? It certainly seemed popular because there were only a few tables free when we arrived at 8pm. However, we did struggle to see any sign of the menu we had been promised. We eventually spotted it advertised on a small board behind the booths on the way to the kitchen. We were eventually brought a paper copy of the menu but not before being given the a la carte to peruse.
Food arrived quickly but by the time we were brought our starters we had already been served by four different waitresses. Personally I prefer it when one person is assigned to a section so as a diner you know who is serving you and you know who you are tipping. It also prevents problems like we experienced later when we agreed a break between our dessert and cheese course and then the waiter went on a break or home leaving us waiting for a very long time as no-one seemed to know we hadn’t had our cheese.
Anyway, the food was very nice and excellent value for money. To start we had creamy wild mushroom soup with chives. It tasted good but was very salty.
This was quickly followed by the fish course; pan fried scallops with ratatouille. We thought it seemed like an odd pairing but it worked. The scallops were cooked nicely and it was light and fresh.
For the main course there was a choice of two dishes so we picked one each. I had Limousin beef, slow cooked with red wine and moutarde violet te de brive and Mr V had breast of chicken in a mushroom jus.
Both meats were cooked very well and the meat portions were very generous. Our side dish of potatoes was especially good. However, when it came to the accompanying vegetables the dish was mostly cabbage with a small amount of broccoli and carrots placed on top. It seemed a shame to be so economical with the vegetables when they were so generous with the meat.
Dessert was creme brulee, a favourite of mine. Sadly it was very disappointing. I’m used to my creme brulee arriving in a deep dish so you can tap through the crispy top into the creme anglaise below but this was served in a wide shallow dish and spread so thinly that we ended up with more sugar than custard with every mouthful. Mr V couldn’t finish his. I persisted but I can’t say I enjoyed it much.
The cheese board was nicely presented with three different cheeses and the meal was finished with a freshly brewed coffee and chocolates.
We left feeling full and agreed that if we had been paying customers it was very good value. Aside from the issues mentioned above, staff were friendly and knowledgeable and there was a good atmosphere. Other than the creme brulee, the food was good but forgettable. If you like your chain restaurants, I’d say Pierre is a good option but with so much choice in the city centre, I’m afraid it didn’t stand out for us.