Food review: Bon appetit to French delights

Looking for somewhere to eat post-lockdown? James Driver-Fisher recommends a French-style restaurant in the heart of Kidderminster.

Pan-fried chicken breast served in a classic chasseur sauce of mushrooms, thyme, concassé tomato and red wine, with pomme purée and French beans
Pan-fried chicken breast served in a classic chasseur sauce of mushrooms, thyme, concassé tomato and red wine, with pomme purée and French beans

When things do finally open up once again, one place definitely worth trying out is Bistrot Pierre.

Certain places just make you feel at home as soon as you walk through the door, and this lovely little restaurant in the heart of Kidderminster was one such place.

It is a place where diners can really push the boat, or just eat something lovely on a bit of budget.

Pretty much everything on the menu looked nice but in the end my wife, Kelly, and I decided to try the three-course menu, which cost just £14.95. There was also a two-course option, which was £2 cheaper.

And that was because there was plenty to choose from on the set menu, so there didn’t seem to be any real need to look elsewhere.

Exterior shot of the Bistrot Pierre

Dishes marked on the menu with ‘PF’ are included in a ‘Prix Fixe’ menu. The offer is available from noon to 6pm, so if you fancy quality food at a very reasonable price, we’d recommend following suit.

Starters included soup of the day, made with seasonal ingredients, served with freshly-baked French bread and butter. It was red pepper soup the day we came and it was delicious. Soup, for me, is always perfectly served when it is both smooth whilst maintaining a hint of the chunky vegetables it has been made with.

This soup had a creamy base, a slight crunch of pepper and also a hint of tang from the tomatoes. A lovely and light way to start the meal.

Kelly went for the calamari, which was lightly-spiced and crispy-fried squid, served with garlic aioli. We were quite surprised such a dish would be included in a set menu, especially when it was served.

The batter really was very light and there was plenty of squid – big, thick sheets of fish, which were packed full of flavour, not how it is served so often, a streaky bit of squid battered to within an inch of it’s life. This was really nice stuff.

Soup of the day

Starters not included on the set menu, which were a little dearer, also sounded very tempting.

Deep-fried Brie in a crisp rosemary crumb, with dressed leaves and plum chutney; sautéed king prawns in a chilli, garlic, tomato and basil sauce served with grilled artisan bread; and a seasonal special of pan-fried scallops, with a hazelnut butter and smoked bacon lardons.

Again, included in the set menu were some wonderful main dishes, such as the Salmon fillet with roasted cherry tomatoes, shallots, black olives and capers, served with tenderstem broccoli and new potatoes. The Parmentier Maison also sounded very interesting – a rich French-style cottage pie with ground beef and smoked bacon topped with pomme purée and served with honey roasted carrots and green beans.

There were also plenty of vegetarian options too, like the butternut squash and goat’s cheese risotto, which came served with spinach and celeriac, topped with crispy sage and truffle oil. A vegan option was also available.

Kelly, however, had her eyes on the honey-glazed pork medallions with Morteau sausage, caramelised apples, Dijon beurre blanc, dauphinoise potatoes and French beans.

Interior shot of the Bistrot Pierre

She said the pork was lovely – and there was a lot of it too. It was very tender and the sauce had a lovely kick to it from the Dijon, which was a pleasant surprise and added something different to the dish.

Something as simple as the perfectly-cooked beans also added to the flavour and the dauphinoise potatoes packed a really nice punch, full strong, creamy, cheesy, flavours.

The boeuf bourguignon has been the bistro’s signature dish for 25 years ­– and that was one that very nearly made me sway from the set menu.

Inspired by the classic French recipe, it includes marinated diced beef, which has been slowly braised with red wine, shallots, mushrooms and bacon, which also served with pomme purée and honey-roasted carrots.

That was very nearly a winner but in the end I went for the chicken chasseur. It’s a dish we often had as kids but I wondered how it might taste properly cooked rather than just two cooked chicken thighs with a sauce thrown on top.

Honey-glazed pork medallions with Morteau sausage, caramelised apples, Dijon beurre blanc, dauphinoise potatoes and French beans

It was a good decision as the pan-fried chicken breast came served in a classic chasseur sauce of mushrooms, thyme, concassé tomato and red wine, with pomme purée and French beans.

Rich, flavoursome, packed with garlic and whole host of other herbs, it was delicious from the first mouthful to the last.

The chicken also had a lovely, crispy skin, the beans were again perfectly cooked, the pomme puree – or mash, really – had a hint of cream but not too much and sauce was beautiful too.

And for once, I wasn’t stuffed, just nicely full which meant there was plenty of room for a rare dessert later on.

Luckily for us, the majority of the dessert options were on the set menu, so I went for a traditional French crepes, with vanilla ice cream and mixed berry compote, while Kelly again went for newfound love – a creme brulee.

French crepes, with vanilla ice cream and mixed berry compote

The creme brulee is another of the bistro’s signature dishes. A French classic, it is made fresh daily by the chefs each day. It didn’t disappoint either and, despite there being an ample amount, because it was so light there was nothing left at the end.

I went for the traditional French crepes, which came with either vanilla ice cream or crème Chantilly. Fillings included lemon and sugar, chocolate or mixed berry compote.

I had the ice cream and mixed berries, and I don’t think there could have been a lighter, more enjoyable way to round off the meal. Tangy and creamy, the mixture was simple and really tasty.

There were also plenty of healthy, tasty options for children, as well as the usual fare. Our six-year-old daughter, Annabelle, also pushed the boat out for a three-course meal, which still only came in at £8.95 and included a drink, starting with the grilled garlic baguette topped with grated cheese. The mains were great fun too because children are able to mix match four different options, which as anyone with kids will know can come in very handy.

Creme brulee

Mains included macaroni cheese, burgers, lightly battered fish or chicken goujons, super veg risotto, or ham and melted cheese croquettes. Children can then either choose from mashed potato or pommes frites, as well as carrots and peas, or cucumber and carrot sticks.

Annabelle opted for the macaroni, frites, carrot sticks and cucumber – quite the concoction but she was happy.

It was the most wholesome version of macaroni cheese we’d ever seen served on child’s menu.

Rather than overcooked pasta dumped into a bowl of white sauce, this dish had been as lovingly put together as had the adult dishes.

Annabelle then finished it all off with a chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream.

All three of us left the bistro extremely happy having each enjoyed three beautifully cooked dishes. Again, another venue we’d highly recommend – once restaurants start to reopen again.

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