Strangely the most annoying things about real French bistros can also be the most appealing. Slightly uncomfortable chairs sit around tables that are too close together, lights are way too bright, the decibel level makes it hard to converse and there is a decor that, lets just say, is not of great concern to the owners. All these may become more than a slight irritation when one is then served up some mediocre fare.
However the appeal of a true French bistro really lies with the food. When it is good the proximity of the neighbouring tables ceases to be an issue, the noise becomes a cheerful ‘buzz’ and the bright lights – well, you don’t even notice anymore. It all becomes part of the vibe that is precisely what a true French bistro is all about and which so, so hard to find outside France.
I should quickly add here that the delightful Bia Bistot offers very comfortable seats in an attractive room, but as it is a relatively compact space the tables are closely packed, the lighting is quite bright and there is a good level of hubbub – all this very nicely meets the requirements of a venue neatly transplanted from the Parisian suburbs. As for the catering, dare I say, one would have very great difficulty, even in the best arrondissements, in finding such pitch-perfect catering.
The French influence comes from native Matthias Llorente who, together with his Irish wife Roisin, are the brains, as well as the chefs, behind it all. Having learnt their trade in a series of top establishments, culminating with Gordon Ramsay New York they have blended continental style and international flair. Bia Bistrot’s success is evident from an extensive list of top reviews whilst their ethos is simple: to provide fresh, seasonal, local, sustainable and homemade food in a genuine Bistro atmosphere. To avoid any doubt of their intentions they have even added the extra ‘t’ to give Bistrot its true French spelling.
We started with a delicately poached duck egg on a bed of puy lentils and wild mushrooms plus a beetroot, walnut and goats curd salad before sampling perfect home-made gnocchi served on a bed of sweet potato. A perfectly cooked fillet of hake, with crispy skin came with spinach, squash and a delicious cream sauce. For those with a meatier taste there were the likes of pigeon, steak and pressed lamb to choose from on our visit.
There was no room for desserts, but apple crumble with clotted cream, local cheeses and home made shortbread were all very tempting. This was a first class meal in a vibrant and convivial atmosphere that clearly attracts a regular following of locals – we visited on a dull Tuesday evening, but still every table was full. Prices too were excellent with three generously-proportioned courses coming in at a little over £20 a head. Hutment recommend.
For further information visit www.biabistrot.co.uk