In a nutshell
A mid-market French bistrot set on an elegant Georgian street in the centre of Bath. As the 13th restaurant to open in this growing, Nottingham-based chain (it originally started at a Pierre Victoire franchise but went independent when Pierre Victoire floundered), the brand’s founders Rob Beacham and John Whitehead, are hoping Le Bistrot Pierre in Bath will be a lucky venture in the southwest.
Head chef Frédéric Fetiveau started cooking at 15 in La Rochelle before moving to Paris at 18 and working in the kitchens of various Michelin-starred restaurants. Following a stint at Madrid’s Café Óliver he moved to Bath in 2014.
This is comfort food for Francophile Brits. Though open for breakfast (crepes, omelettes, pastries), as well as lunch and dinner, it’s the classics that regulars come for: steak-frites, sole meunière, boeuf bourguignon and tarte au citron. More recent additions stretch to appetisers of chorizo roasted in honey, Alsace-style flatbreads and slow-cooked pork with a Calvados and apple jus but, true to the comfort dining philosophy, there are no big surprises; the menu here is the same as at other branches.
Price is a big draw, too; steak frites start at £9.95, on Sunday and Monday evenings you can order two courses and a carafe of wine for £21.50, and regular special events promise other deals (the next is a Bastille Day celebration with two courses from £17.95). For a break with the Anglo-Gallic norm, book in for one of the restaurant’s planned Soirée Gastronomique evenings when the menus will veer towards more unusual provincial French dishes.
It might not win you many friends the following day but the appetiser of a whole garlic bulb, roasted and served with warm rosemary bread and oil and vinegar, is a winner. As are the sweet, fat king prawns, rolled in brandy, garlic butter and lemon and served with a peppy shaved fennel salad and a paprika-laced aioli.
What we’re going back for
Whole baked Normandy Camembert, with sourdough and plum chutney.
What’s the room like?
Under the remit of Devon-based architects Gillespie Yunnie the space invokes a perfect mix of Georgian grandeur (marble fireplace, vast gilt mirror, contemporary chandeliers) and French neighbourhood cosiness (wooden bistro chairs, framed vintage Gitanes posters, red leather button-back banquettes, a smattering of outside tables beneath a smart canvas awning). At the back of the 90-cover restaurant is an open kitchen.
What’s the service like?
Friendly and assured. It took a little while for our glasses of Corbières Château du Vieux Parc 2012 to arrive but, with their “subtle notes of Garrigue herbs”, it was worth the wait.
Bullseye: A simple starter of perfectly steamed asparagus, served with a soft-poached egg and lemon vinaigrette.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Batten
4 Princes Buildings, George Street, Bath, BA1 2ED
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