Taking the well-travelled road to her hometown, Jessica Carter checks out the sea views and the grub of its new French joint
The stretch of M5 between junction 17 and 21 is some incredibly familiar territory. Having grown up in Weston-super-Mare before moving to Bristol, I’ve been making the trip between exits (and moaning about the never-ending story of road works as I do so) for my entire life.
There are lots of reasons I still go back to the comfort of this old-school Victorian seaside town – although food, to be fair, isn’t usually one of them. But, when the huge circular building right on the prom became home to the newest Bistrot Pierre, I made my first ‘business’ trip to the mighty WSM.
Built as part of the rejuvination project on the seafront, this large, modern building had two different restaurants move in (and then out again, pretty sharpish) before being left empty. In September last year though, it reopened having been transformed into Bistro Pierre’s 16th venue – and one of the group’s largest, seating around 210 guests.
On ground level is a casual bar area, where visitors can chill out with a drink and a snack or sharing platter, while upstairs you’ll find the main dining room and the first floor terrace, which wraps itself around the curved, ocean-facing façade. Back inside, the generously sized venue is made to feel warm and relaxed, with rustic wood cladding and gilt-framed pictures on the on the walls; a tasteful colour palette of murky greens, auberinge purples and chalky greys; wooden, unclothed tables; and low-hanging vintage-style bulbs. Not that there’s any kind of a lack of light here in the daytime, mind; the floor-to-ceiling windows allow the sun to flood the dining room, while offering punters pretty impressive views out to sea (or out to where the sea is when the tide’s in, at least).
Service was well-paced – calm but efficient – and the young team are friendly and chatty, lending to the relaxed, inclusive bistro feel.
A slab of chicken liver parfait (£5.95) was suitably velvety and rich, and benefitted from a sweet and sticky red onion jam, while toasted slices of baguette were ready for the spreading. Rings of fried squid (£5.95) sat alongside a generous dollop of thick mayo, given punch with roasted garlic. Okay, so it wasn’t the best squid I’ve ever had – a tad too tough and the batter not quite as crisp as I’d have liked – but, that said, it was hardly unpleasant and I finished the lot.
The pan-fried chicken breast with puy lentils (£13.75) was warming and hearty, with hunks of bacon hidden among the bed of lentils and creamy, garlicky sauce. The chicken – a bit on the dry side, in all honesty – sported a golden skin and was scattered with rosemary leaves. Steak-Frites (£9.95) saw a 7oz pan-seared bavette steak, served just pink, plated up with skinny fries and salad leaves.
To up our veg game, we ordered sides of French beans with flakes of toasted almonds (£3.25), which went down a right treat, and black pepper roasted cauliflower (£3.25), with pleasingly charred edges.
Dessert was crème brûlée (£5.50) and warming honey cake with a smooth and delicately flavoured ginger ice cream (£5.50).
That was all washed down with a really good red, and – happy days – came on the prix fixe lunch menu, priced at £10.95 for two courses, and £12.95 for three (although the steak carries a suppliement – only a quid, though).
A popular independent chain, with reasonable prices, decent food and plenty of experience behind it, Bistrot Pierre is an ideal resident to make the most of this prominent building, right on the sea in this developing coastal town.
BISTROT PIERRE, Princess Royal Square, Beach Road, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1AT; 01934 643972