Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 that marked the start of the French Revolution, and to celebrate France’s ideals of “liberty, equality and fraternity.”
That day has been celebrated ever since and French-themed restaurants have not been slow to capitalize.
The French connection with Bistrot Pierre was timely for our visit on Bastille Day with the restaurant putting on a special four-course menu at a highly-attractive price.
Despite being part of a chain and sharing menus and decor themes, each Bistrot Pierre offers its own unique style and the restaurant we visited in Sutton Coldfield was no different.
Under new management and with a new chef, the venue has a Quaint Gallic ambience, a kind of chic cafe restaurant charm, comfortable but not decadent.
It prides itself on its freshly cooked food, although some items like the French fries were frozen.
On this occasion, the Mere Green venue was kitted out in quaint, or naff, style, depending on your point of view, including staff wearing Breton sailor shirts and berets. Many customers joined in the fun, some adding the obligatory string of onions around the neck.
The four-course menu offered a selection of around half a dozen starters and mains, a cheese selection and a selection of puddings for £32.95 per person.
A decent choice for a kind of set menu and to start off, both of us resisted the French onion soup and I chose the interesting-looking Lyonnaise salad, while my partner plumped for the more familiar calamari. We had quite a wait for the first course to arrive, but it proved worth it.
Let’s be clear, it may be French themed, but there was absolutely no sign of Nouvelle Cuisine-sized portions here, both dishes making us wonder whether four courses were achievable.
My warm included a poached egg, coated in a crispy panko, or breadcrumb crust, Morteau sausage, dressed leaves, baby potatoes and croutons.
The salad mixture was crunchy and tasty, but did the poached egg stand up to scrutiny and have a runny yolk?
Cutting into the crust revealed a perfectly cooked egg. A great start for me while the calamari, again, was a substantial offering. Would it be rubbery and overcooked? Well no, cooked pretty much to perfection while the lightly spiced garlic oil offered a welcome kick.
To continue the French theme, the mains proved deja vu in terms of quantity, with my partner’s half roasted chicken and a tub of chips supplemented by garlic and parsley butter, and an optional chestnut mushroom sauce.
Eating out for me is about the challenge of trying something a little different. I have always been ambivalent about risotto, a challenge for any cook or chef and wrongly cooked can be a soggy mess. So the Wild Mushroom Risotto it was then.
My wife set about the half chicken and given she is a bit odd and prefers the dark meat of a chicken rather than the breast, surprised me by having a go at both.
The chicken proved to be moist and well cooked, with the butter and sauce meaning the dish was not too dry.
So how about the risotto?
Any fears of a savory rice pudding were quickly dispelled with a plate of well cooked rice, with a clever combination of spinach, peas, Saint Mont cheese and tarragon, which to use an old cliché, really did tantalize the taste buds.
A huge dish and very filling. Both dishes were left with food on the plate while we contemplated the task, or risk, of another two courses.
A brief consultation meant the cheeseboard would be abandoned and one sweet would be shared.
We chose the Paris-Brest, which comprised a French choux pastry with hazelnut praline cream, hazelnuts, pink peppercorn strawberries.
It has the appearance of art on a plate which might have prompted the great Claude Monet to paint it and the fact that it was a sharer was a wise choice.
Supplemented with warm chocolate sauce but not sickly sweet, it is a great alternative with the slightly sweet praline cream complemented by the dark, slightly bitter chocolate.
Verdict? It was good. Without doubt, great value for a shade under £33 each and the beauty of it was there were substantial savings on ordering the same items separately from the main menu.
Service was efficient and the staff were attentive and polite, offering a pleasant dining experience.
The restaurant is open seven days a week and has an outdoor terrace. Menus and cover most options including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian. New general manager Sadikur Chowdhury is beginning to make his mark with his new kitchen team.
Like many in hospitality they have suffered the double whammy of the Covid 19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis, but the new boss says he is determined to grow the business.
Like all of those in the hospitality business, we should wish them good luck!
Mulberry Walk, Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield B75 5BP