Altrincham is one of those places that’s become a real success story. Not so long ago, it was suffering the same fate of every other high street – shops closing, empty units, restaurant closures. It was too quiet.
Now it’s becoming a bit of a destination. Altrincham Market is one of the best in Greater Manchester. The empty units are full again and it’s shining in the realm of food and drink – craft beer pubs, cocktail bars, great restaurants and street food.
It’s no surprise that it’s made some of the bigger boys sit up and take notice. There’s been a steady influx of new faces. Sugar Junction opened it’s second site, Porta Tapas has opened too (that’s definitely on my hit list), and now Le Bistrot Pierre. Somewhat fortuitously as Francs – a long term resident of Alty, has closed.
Until now, the nearest Bistrot Pierre was in Stockton Heath. Well worth the visit, but definitely not a quick hop on the bus or tram. Spying an opportunity, they have now set up their latest site in the centre of Altrincham, close to the market (and all other good eating opportunities).
Much like their Stockton Heath site, they’ve made good use of the two floors, and despite the modern outer, the inside has been decorated in a similar manner to their other sites. Rich colours, lots of wood, and alongside the almost cliched bistro effect are little touches that I rather love. The curtain over the door is something that’s both practical and a little luxurious, and the difference in furniture styles and heights creates a feeling of space, and of different rooms within the same space. However, as it was a very busy night before Christmas, the space was full of diners who didn’t need me snapping pictures of them eating, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
Whilst Mr GFB and I nibbled on baguette and chilled fresh French butter, we contemplated the menu. Favourites are littered about – from terrines to mussels, to steak frites. For mains, there was barely any decision to be made, but starters took us a little longer to settle on – as the specials menu offered some delicious options too.
In the end, Mr GFB stuck with the A La Carte menu and the Champignon farci. A grilled Portobello mushroom and goats’ cheese wrapped in Bayonne ham and served with a green herb and caper dressing and a crisp crouton. It was, it turned out the weakest dish of our visit, a great idea, but overly heavy with oil and not quite what he’d hoped for.
Whereas I lent on the specials menu for the pigeon mille feulle – tender wild pigeon on crisp pastry with gently dressed leaves. No fuss, just simple good food.
Onto the mains and we’d stuck to the classics. Mr GFB’s bouillabaise was delicious. Generous with the seafood and the bisque was rich and flavourful – more than making up for the disappointment of his starter.
For me, it was all about the duck confit. “Les Landes” duck leg with a cassoulet of Toulouse sausage, smoked bacon, flageolet beans and plum tomatoes. It’s proper, hearty, winter food. It’s warming, rich and the dining equivalent of a down-filled duvet. This is all about the buttery, rich duck, the earthy beans, the smokiness of the bacon, and the spice of the sausage. Comfort food.
Dessert beckoned and to call it a challenge, would have been putting it mildly. I admittedly had skipped lunch to try and find space, but sharing was still the only option.
So we went all out.
Go hard to go home, right? This was going to ensure we rolled out the door. Chocolate fondant pudding with vanilla ice cream. Soft, light sponge, rich, gently soft centre and cool creamy ice cream. An intense chocolate hit that provided us with the food equivalent of a beer coat – a pudding blanket if you will.
In a town where we’ve just lost the only French restaurant (whose loss after 24 years is much lamented), this is neatly filling a hole and then some. And I can only hope, that some of the dining options from Stockton Heath, with it’s wine matched dinners and Soiree Gastronomique, move over too.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by Le Bistrot Pierre, Altrincham. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
Despite a weak starter, we had a lovely evening, with the other dishes more than making up for it. The service was lovely – with extra thanks to Megan, who we think had a little bit of trying night!