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A French bistro that takes your fancy; Taste Test Ben Rossington visits Bistro Pierre on Button Street.

IT WAS the night after the riots and there was an eerie calm through the centre of Liverpool. Most shops had shut up early and there were very few people out on the streets.

Even the normally buzzing Cavern Quarter had fallen quiet.

Quiet, that is, except for the hum of happy chatter flowing out of a window on high.

Down in the street, whatever was going on up there seemed very appealing.

And 'up there' was up the steps off Button Street that lead into one of Liverpool's favourite restaurants, the established Bistro Pierre.

Although it's not quite the established French restaurant that has been dragging people through its doors for more than 10 years.

It's had a facelift but a new lick of paint, some new wall awnings and a shuffle of the tables has also brought with it an exquisite new menu.

It is packed with lots more classic French dishes such as Boeuf Bourgignon with sizzling skillets of fresh vegetables and gratin dauphinoise accompanying main courses.

There is also a great selection of side orders such as pan fried frogs legs and Tartiflette available for those who want to go for the authentic French taste.

When we walked in from the quiet streets on our Wednesday evening visit we were met with a packed restaurant.

Couples dined at intimate window tables while larger groups took up the middle of the room with chat flowing back and forth.

Now if the food's bad, I've found the atmosphere in eateries goes the same way. So a good friendly atmosphere is always a reflection of the quality of the courses and the service on offer.

And the new Bistro Pierre taste doesn't disappoint.

Owners Bistro Qui? have Pierre, their 'daddy' of the restaurant group, Bistro Franc and Bistro Jacques along with The Hub Alehouse and Kitchen in Hanover Street Family owned by brothers-in-law Mark Friend and Steven Slater, they pride themselves on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

My dining partner started off her evening with roasted yellow courgette and chilli soup (pounds 3.25), which she said was "tasty, fresh and spicy".

Having plunged my spoon in (without asking), I can testify the chilli added warmth without too much of a kick thanks to the swirl of cream.

I went for, and kept all to myself, the Dijon pork fricassee (pounds 4.95), a slow cooked stew of shredded pork, roasted apple and garlic served in a creamy cider and mustard sauce that came in a big bowl but proved just the right size for a healthy starter.

For the mains, I browsed down to the 'Les Classiques' section of the menu before settling on the Confit de Canard (pounds 11.90) - a slowly cooked duck leg that melted off the bone as soon as you even looked at it, served on a bed of sauteed cabbage and bacon with a traditional orange and Cointreau jus.

Over the other side of the table landed coq au vin (pounds 12.25) - slowly roasted so the chicken just fell apart, a rich tasty sauce with red wine, thyme, bacon and roasted baby onions.

It proved rustic, filling and the sauce was delicious.

Two starters and two mains, along with a sample from the new cocktail section and a couple of beers, and we were soon sitting a little slumped in our chairs.

But across from where we were sitting was the blackboard containing the dessert menu and the temptation to sample it proved too much.

We quickly went from 'let's get one to share' to 'let's get two, one each, and there might be some sharing or there might not'.

The crme brulee was the French classic done perfectly. A crisp layer of torched brown sugar atop thick cream is a must try.

I went for the slightly less original profiteroles, which came warm with a dusting of icing sugar and a strawberry and left me completely unable to cram any more food in.

We ate from the main menu but I have a suspicion most of our fellow diners were there to take advantage of the fabulous 'Wednesday Night Special', which thankfully hasn't gone out of the window along with the old gingham table cloths.

A staple of the Bistro chain, the great offers keep the dedicated diners coming back, hence them braving the city's post riot-hangover and the swirling rain outside.

Wednesday nights (or Mondays if you're a student) offers two courses from the a la Carte menu plus a bottle of house wine per person for the hardly-bank-breaking pounds 14.95.

Bistro Pierre made a name for itself when it first opened - now it's well on its way to doing it again thanks to its reinvention. Viva la Revolution!

Foodie Facts Venue: Bistro Pierre - Cavern Quarter, 14 Button Street, L2 6PS. Tel: 0151-227 2577 Email: www.bistropierre.com

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TRES CHIC: Bistro Pierre has been given a fresh, new look
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Article Type:Restaurant review
Date:Sep 22, 2011
Words:822
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