Raise a glass to Floyd Bistro once run by legendary chef
Asmall figurine of Keith Floyd – with a glass of wine, naturally – stands proudly in the front window of Bistro Bière.
It was in this very building that the flamboyant Bristol chef had one of his bistros before giving up restaurants to be one of the first TV cooks.
Bistro Bière is the new name for what was until recently the Clifton Kitchen. Owner Richard Marques-Jones wanted to make it even more of a French bistro, only one that served an increased selection of his favourite craft beers.
There have been a few minor cosmetic changes to the restaurant but the caramel-coloured button-back banquettes remain, as do the vertical lime and grey tiles around the kitchen.
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A new chef, Steve Mitchell, has arrived and his short menu – five starters, five main courses and four desserts – is crammed with full-bodied French bistro dishes such as fillet steak tartare (£5.95); boeuf en daube with celeriac and potato purée (£10.95) and rump steak with tarragon butter and pommes frites (£15.95).
Quirky French music filled the room as I sipped a chilled glass of Vedelt Blonde, one of ten bottled beers on offer alongside a predominantly French wine list.
I started with the trio of duck (£5.95) – slices of smoked breast, a rillette of confit leg and a liver paté – served with tiny dices of pickled apple, a few leaves of Little Gem lettuce and finely shaved discs of beetroot, all of which added sweetness, earthiness and crunch to counter any richness of the duck.
A main course of grilled fillet of hake, mussels, scallops and white beans (£15.50) didn't do exactly what it said on the tin. Firstly, the white beans were actually butterbeans rather than the cannellini I expected. Secondly, the scallops hadn't arrived so the waiter explained there would be more mussels instead.
In fact, only six mussels turned up with the hake, which was cooked with precision but the absence of the scallops and the parsimonious size of the fish made £15.50 seem a little ambitious.
A side order of 'spring vegetables', garlic and herb oil (£3) was simply carrots and kale – more of a wintry accompaniment to a hearty beef roast than the early summer complement to delicate fish and seafood.
Tarte au citron (£5.50) was well made with excellent pastry and a pleasingly zesty filling but it was a very small slice that vanished in two mouthfuls. It was a dessert to file under 'small but perfectly formed'.