While I'm by no means an expert food critic, I'm very much partial to a whole host of culinary delights and while this latest review is technically of a chain restaurant, the concept and quality of the food in Cardiff's Pierre Bistrot allows it to hold it's head high amongst the best in the Cardiff gastronomic scene. It stands out in part due to a Gallic feel plucked straight from the boulevards of Paris, a quirkiness evident in decor plucked straight from an existentialists dream coffee shop.
Yet quirkiness can only take you so far in the restaurant game, particularly if your food isn't up to scratch, particularly if paired with the peculiarly French caricature of snobby service. It's rather good then, that Cardiff's Pierre Bistrot is a taste sensation from start to finish. While I've only eaten off their very well priced lunch menu (£12.95 for three courses), I've managed to a sample a range of dishes and got a general feel for the place. The food is, as you'd expect, very French, intricate fiddly starters leading to a range of mainly meat based mains, before sweetening your palette considerably through their rich desserts.
Beverages are pretty much standard, albeit with a continental twist, throwing in quality wines with some exotic beers such as personal favourite Leffe!
During my three visits, I've been lucky enough, occasionally in small quantities to try a few things out and from this have a few observations on the food. The meat, whether in their fabulous Pork Roti or in the Steak is especially juicy, so much so that on one occasion my lunch companion turned down the sauce that went with the steak since 'why have it when it's already so tasty'. The pork roti, my most constant favourite nestles on a bed of cabbage and gravy that lends a little extra tang to the meat but doesn't diminish its quality. The duck terrine starter is clearly home made and is perfectly paired with the accompanying pickles, the sharpness usually found in the vegetable offset well thanks to the creamy flavour and texture of the pate.
The desserts are equally mesmerising and while seemingly a little small, make up for that in their richness, without every becoming thick or stodgy. Chocolate Torte with pouring chocolate is just as sweet, appealing and messy to eat as you'd imagine, while their novel 'Creme Brulee of the day' combines a remarkably thin glazing, with a fluffy centre underneath. Given the high standards in everything tried thus far, I'll be returning soon to extend my range further, though it might take me a little while before I can tackle the Escargot!
Service is polite, informative and manages to deliver a the Parisian feel without ever verging into disdain or snobbery that us Brits fear upon ordering in France. The lunch menu is available from 12-3 daily, while a pre-theatre dinner is also offered. Although costly, they also hold a bi-monthly taste extravaganza, in which you get served a 6 course dinner with accompanying beverages at a fairly reasonable £22 per head. All in all, this new addition to the Brewery quarter is a great success. Allez Les Bleus indeed.
Credit to Kacie Morgan, AKA 'The Rare Welsh Bit' for the sign picture, check out her blog for more Gastronomic goodness!