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Bistrot Verite, Southport


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We have a rule about midweek meals – TomTom has to say it’s no more than a 60 minute drive. Bistrot Verite just squeezed in at 59 minutes and we’re really glad it did. It’s the sort of “locals place” that you’d wish was in your neighbourhood. And the local residents of Southport are clearly pleased they have it in their neighbourhood – place was packed, with walk-ins being turned away.

There’s a shortish menu, maybe around 10 dishes as starters and a similar number of main courses. Some clearly have a strong French influence. Others seem more British but, perhaps, gussied up to appear Gallic (black pudding becomes boudin noir, for example). Others still are pretty much bog standard “modern Brit” bistro affairs. Thankfully, there’s good solid cooking going on here. And friendly, efficient service.

One starter was an “assiette of French salads”. Half a dozen little piles – dressed diced beetroot, sliced fennel, lentils spiked with cumin and the like. Very light; very summery. There was another light summery plate, featuring crab flakes and celeriac remoulade which was absolutely fine, although the remoulade could have done with more of a mustard hit.

For mains, steak frites featured a juicy fillet steak, crisp chips which might have benefitted from a tad more seasoning and a little bowl of well dress salad leaves. No complaints with that one.

And absolutely no complaints about my duck, which came as nicely rare breast and confit leg. Great flavour to the meat. There was a Calvados based sauce which, to my taste was overly sweet and not sufficiently balanced by the semi-sharp fried apples. Served separately to accompany, new potatoes dressed in a light cheese sauce, broccoli, green beans. I very happily hoovered all this up.

Dessert certainly had a Gallic bent. Tarte aux pommes was a classic – a thin disc of crisp puff pastry, topped with thin, overlapping slices of apple and served with cream. The day’s “special” was a peach and apricot melba, wrapped in crepe and served with both cream and ice cream. Absolutely delicious, the fruit having a slight sharpness which perfectly balanced out the sweet stickiness of the melba sauce and the two creams. I’m not normally all that keen on desserts but this is one that might convince me to be more inclined to order one.

If there are to be criticisms, then I accept that they are very minor ones – at this level have linen napkins not paper, offer a choice of wines by the glass, other than just “red” or “white”. These are front of house matters – there’s little needs sorting out in the kitchen. The Good Food Guide’s score of 3 seems about right.

John Hartley

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Nice write up. Why 60 minutes? You need to live a little, push for 61 or 70 minutes. You never know what is round the corner you might get cancer tomorrow or even worse a spinal cord injury. At your age be a devil don’t worry about the minutes enjoy the life

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Two hours driving in an evening is enough for me. If we fancy a place that takes longer, then we do an overnight stop - make it a weekend away, sort of thing.

Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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