Nottingham restaurant Bistrot Pierre celebrates 30th anniversary with 'pleasantly surprising' nostalgic menu

Staff members celebrate 30 years at Bistrot Pierre in Milton Street, Nottingham city centre
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

One of Nottingham's oldest restaurants is celebrating 30 years of serving French cuisine. Bistrot Pierre started in the city, in Milton Street, before growing into a UK-wide chain.

To celebrate the milestone, the stalwart on the dining scene has introduced a special nostalgic menu to take regulars on a trip down memory lane. A selection of the restaurant's most popular dishes over the last three decades appear on the value for money three-course menu.

Classics such as mushroom sourdough, steak frites, boeuf bourguignon, crème brûlée and tarte au citron feature, with a glass of Cuvee Selection 30 red or white wine for £30. It has been running since Monday and will finish this Friday July 5.

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The restaurant's enduring appeal is evident - as soon as it turns midday diners flood in for lunch. Many said they have been coming to the restaurant for decades.

Sue Risdall, of Ravenshead, said: "I have been here for work's Christmas parties quite a few times and things with friends. We're meeting for lunch today and wanted somewhere central and thought this is ideal.

Bistrot Pierre in Nottingham
Bistrot Pierre in Nottingham -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

"The bread is always stand out and I think there are some of the things on the menu that do really well that you don't get anywhere else in Nottingham. It's a lovely place, a nice calm place, and it's nice whether it's 's lunchtime or evening."

Her friend Linda Shelton, of Bakersfield said: "I haven't been here for years. I used to go to Petit Paris before it closed. There's not many places that are nice like this."

A couple in their 70s, who live near Mansfield, said they liked the English take on French food rather than snails in garlic and frog's legs. The woman said: "My only criticism is I think they have too many tables but the food makes up for it. I like the chicken parmentier and boeuf bourguignon.

She added the loyalty points system on an app with five percent cash back on food and drink is an incentive for dining there.

General manager Linesh Kannan, who joined the restaurant in 2021, said it had become important to get to know regular faces. "Our regulars know where they want to sit. When I joined a customer walked in and went and sat at a table. I said do you have a booking? and he said this is my table.

French bread with baked goat's cheese and mushroom sourdough at Bistrot Pierre
French bread with baked goat's cheese and mushroom sourdough at Bistrot Pierre -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

"There are lots of regulars and they like to be noticed. If I have a stable team they all know. You would be upset if you were a regular coming for 30 years and no one knows you."

One of the major changes since the pandemic has been allowing customers to book at lunchtime. Previously they would queue down Milton Street waiting for a table.

Although the main menu has evolved to include burgers, linguine and vegan dishes such humous and maple roasted butternut squash, there are always timeless and authentic French classics, made with red wine, butter and cream.

Chicken liver parfait, brie, pork medallions, steaks and chocolate mousse are created by the kitchen team led by head chef Bozena Giemzik. There's one particular dish that many customers can't resist. "On every table there will be one or two crème brûlées easily," said Mr Kannan.

Boeuf bourguignon at Bistrot Pierre
Boeuf bourguignon at Bistrot Pierre -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

As well as this week's anniversary menu, the restaurant always has a special lunchtime deal with a choice of five dishes, each priced £12. Sunday roasts are British-style with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, while a full English is one of the breakfasts served, along with French toast and steak and eggs. Currently available at the weekends, the plan is to offer breakfast every day come September.

The restaurant also serves a pre-bookable afternoon tea that's a mix of croissants and sandwiches, scones and patisserie including Victoria sponge and chocolate fudge cake.

Bistrot Pierre originally started as Pierre Victoire in 1994. It was founded by school friends Robert Beacham and John Whitehead. A second restaurant opened in Derby and both rebranded to Bistrot Pierre in 1999.

The business grew across the country but fell into administration during the pandemic with the closure of six restaurants in July 2020. The company was bought out of administration and is backed by London-based private equity firm Livingbridge Group. Today there's 18 restaurants across the UK.

Times remain tough with newly-filed accounts showing reduced sales and a reduced turnover across the group from £24m in the 12 months ending on June 2023, down from £28m.

Chairman John Derkach said the impact of the pandemic and cost of living crisis has led to people to consider much more carefully when, where and how they would spend their money.

"When they do visit, their expectations are much higher as they need to feel the value of their experience. The business has therefore been very focused on service and in particular driving consistency, to ensure that all our guests enjoy the same great experience."

Tarte au citron and crème brûlée at Bistrot Pierre
Tarte au citron and crème brûlée at Bistrot Pierre -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

The verdict

It was October 2022 when I last visited Bistrot Pierre, a restaurant I'd loved since the days of Pierre Victoire. It turned out to be a major disappointment.

When we were invited to try the anniversary menu I went with an open mind - and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that the food and its presentation had vastly improved.

I started with the mushroom sourdough, something I remember originally as having brioche, but it was delicious nevertheless, with creamy mushroom and truffle sauce and an aniseed hit from fresh tarragon leaves.

My main course was the classic boeuf bourguignon. The slow-cooked beef in Malbec wine was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the sauce was rich and flavoursome. It was served with a decent amount of carrot and baby shallots, creamy pomme puree, a crispy kale leaf and a pastry crouton the size of a samosa.

Dessert had to be crème brûlée. The perfectly smooth creamy vanilla custard was topped off with lightly caramelised crispy sugar. Some of that lost l'amour might be returning.