When it’s cold and wintry outside, you just want to make like Baloo the Bear (yes I watched Jungle Book this weekend) and hibernate. Come midday and those darn hunger pangs have begun to set in, heralding the onset of hunter-gatherer syndrome. To avoid battling through the sea of Christmas shoppers for that un-inspired soggy sandwich, I have a better idea.
Grab your coat and run (yes run) down to Le Bistrot Pierre, Friargate Derby.
Le Bistrot Pierre has been serving the good people of Derby for nearly 20 years. It has always been on my list of places to visit, which is why I anticipated the lunch date with more fervour than usual. Not many things surprise me (well, apart from the whole Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes scenario). So I nearly fell off my chair when I learnt that Le Bistrot Pierre is an independent restaurant group. Yes, independent, despite having all the hallmarks of a franchise (slick operation, stamp of efficiency via quick and excellent trained staff). This is supposed to be a compliment, honest.
The exterior is beautifully decorated and not just for the festive season, with a myriad of twinkly lights inviting you in to a warm and welcoming milieu. Having undergone a £250K refurbishment, the setting is very pretty indeed. From stunning mulled wine red leather seating, to the gorgeous exposed brickwork, the decor is tasteful and timeless.
What I love is the attention to detail. The bread roll was lovely, but the butter, was sublime. Le Bistrot Pierre uses only the very best produce and Lescure butter is just one example. I’m from the James Martin school of thought – butter is good, but only the very best will do. Lescure is AOP certified (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) ensuring everything from the raw material to the processing and the final product, comes from one clearly defined region of origin. This effective method is used to promote and protect stellar agricultural products and foodstuffs, which is why the high quality control ensures Lescure butter tastes so darn delicious.
We kicked off with Tartes Flambé (ham, tomato, oozy, cheesy topping atop flaky pastry base). The pastry was crumbly, discernible layers melting in your mouth, whilst the cheese was the gorgeous glue that held it all together.
The Squid Rings were a delight too, the chargrilled lemon doubling up as an eye-catching accessory whilst lending its charcoal-infused aroma to the neighbouring battered rings.
All mains are served with a selection of potatoes and seasonal vegetables. My Oven-roasted Fillet of Scottish Salmon (with chive beurre blanc, mussels and creamed leeks) was a revelation. I had to purposefully slow down eating, because no one wants to see a greedy guzzler wolfing down food. The tender fish, the creamy sauce with a whisper of a punchy onion all made for a highly moreish fish dish.
For dessert I had the Caramelised Lemon Tart (with blackcurrant sorbet), which was delicious and clean on the palate, and although I was bursting to the brim, managed to polish off the triangle of yummy tart because I hate wasting good food.
Le Bistrot Pierre is the Audrey Hepburn of restaurants – stunning with that rare quality which you cannot help but be awed by. It is also extremely rare that I dish out a 10 out of 10 for a restaurant. With impeccable service throughout and food that fills me with warm memories, I offer a hearty congratulations to Le Bistrot Pierre; you are officially one of only two restaurants that I’ve given 10 out of 10.
Le Bistrot have a range of diverse menus, from breakfast, lunch, pre-theatre and gluten free options. See my blog here if you’re still looking for Christmas Day food menus. They also do a rather fantastic set dinner, elegantly titled Soirée Gastronomique. The next one is on 26 January 2016, and for more information (I’m currently juggling my diary to get booked in to this), check out this link here.
To fellow foodies and non gourmands; if you like authentic French cuisine at its best, then Usain Bolt it down to Le Bistrot Pierre. See you there.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 10
Rate or Slate? Rate. Rate. Rate. (PS that’s not a typo, just my vociferous affirmations that this restaurant is one the best I have dined at. Their Tartes Flambé is a stroke of genius.)
Address: 18 Friargate, Derby DE1 1BX Tel: 01332 370470