If it’s something I’ve come to learn about Ilkley over the past few years, it’s the fact that it offers gorgeous walks or all sorts of scenes and terrains, and a galore of restaurants that absolutely please.
From Leeds, Ilkley can be as short as a 25-minute drive away, and if heading in the direction of the centre, you’ll be greeted by ample parking and a surrounding of restaurants. Likewise, catching the train is equally as easy, with the station just a few streets away from the main roads.Quaint and picturesque, Ilkley brings together new and old from vintage book and clothes stores, classics like Bettys Tea Room as well as new names and foodie retreats all located in the centre’s speculator buildings.
Our newest discovery is Bistrot Pierre, French cuisine dining with ‘raison d’être’, for my non-French speaking readers, this translates into ‘reason for being’.
In its very own arch-shaped four walls, dating back to 1861, Bistrot Pierre serves up food from morning to evening, anything from traditional French classics to regional favourites with a little Bistro Pierre flair to it. The Bistrot has a sweet and humble set-up. It looks busy but there’s enough space, with pockets of seating, more intimate as opposed to large open plan dining. The furniture and décor are classic romantic French, with warms hues, a chic and cosy place to enjoy the food.
Two things are guaranteed here – delicious food and a welcoming, relaxed ambience.
The newest menu to taste test is the seasonal Summer à la carte featuring a range of inspired Anglo-French dishes from travels around France and beyond. With starters and desserts hitting around the five-pound mark and mains averaging £15, you’re looking at a very decent offering and food (from our experience) that will make your mouth water.
To start the evening off, we opted for two pre-starter sharers. First up was a good sized portion of marinated Provençal olives and the other, a rather impressive and irresistible Gousse d’ail rôtie – a roasted garlic bulb.
And who’d have thought a simple roasted garlic could bring so much joy and happiness to one table? All four of us kept tucking in for More garlic to spread on our bread and to dip in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A winning combination. The garlic was phenomenal and surprisingly not overpowering as I had imagined. Absolutely divine.
By this point, the anticipation for the starters had kicked in, and we were too excited to see what tasty tour our plates would deliver next. We all went for starters, apart from Lukas, who opted for a main and a dessert.
As the cheese fiend he is, Nathan spotted a brie on the menu, served deep fried with an aromatic spiced pear chutney. Crispy outside, gooey centre. There were plenty of ‘MMMs’ coming from Nathan’s direction.For me, it was the cassolette de moules which took my fancy. A baked ramekin of mussels and spinach with chunks of smoked bacon all served in a light garlic cream sauce. And on the side, to soak up the sauce, a crispy sourdough toast. The mussels were soft, gorgeous in flavours and very well balanced amongst the other components in the dish. Bacon and mussels were certainly a first for me, a very welcoming combination.
Momma Corner liked the sound of the salade de canard and was really happy with her choice. The dish was Vietnamese crispy duck, served on a bed of salad with a soy, chilli, ginger, coriander dressing which she found highly impressive and flavoursome, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Thumbs up from the mother.
The choice of mains was very satisfying with enough to pick from without an overwhelming list of this and that’s. Whether it was steak, lamb, chicken, pork, fish or well and truly meat-free, there’s a dish for everyone.
With steak on the menu, I could have bet my left arm that Nathan would have gone for it. So, the 8oz rump steak is was – cooked slightly rare – with a parsley butter sauce and chunky chips. Again, we had was either silence or ‘MMMs’ from Nathan’s corner. After having tried the meat, I was in complete agreeance. Thick, tender, melt in the mouth steak.Mother Corner went for a pan-fried chicken breast which was served with asparagus, fricassee of wild mushrooms, peas, truffle oil and tarragon, and again, we had a very happy diner. Blown away by how soft the chicken was and a sauce full of flavours, the plate was cleared with not even one pea left on the dish.Lukas opted for the filleted sea bass with lemon, rosemary and garlic. Although a great choice, for a teenager we rather tentative with his decision, just purely because of tastes, but he stuck to his choice. As the plate was brought out, it was the only dish I felt unimpressed by in terms of the size and presentation, especially in comparison to ours. After a long quizzing session, Lukas said he was happy with his dish, and although last to finish, said he enjoyed the fish.My main was the highlight for me – Moroccan spiced slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with pearl couscous, harissa, toasted pine nuts, dried apricots and mint yogurt dressing. Yes, it was as unreal as its description sounds.
The very one and only, a match made in heaven. Lukas and their very own délice au chocolat. You can say it was love at first sight, or maybe even at first bite. This chocolate brownie served with warm pouring chocolate and a scoop of ice cream was the ultimate hit.Lukas was indulging his dessert whilst try to defend his prize from a few eagle eyes around the table. We all got a bite and knew the right decision for dessert had been made.
Bistrot Pierre certainly knows how to feed their hungry guests, with a smile and at a very reasonable cost. Alongside their à la carte menus, there are plenty of others to choose from too such as their two course Prix fixe lunch and evening menus which start from £11.95, as well as their monthly food experiences. For those looking for that something extra, Bistrot Pierre also offers the ‘Soirée gastronomique’ a seasonal six-course set dinner that takes place only twice a month on a Tuesday. This is one we’re looking to book in for next.
Another discovery, another gem to be sure to visit again. Ilkley has always been a lovely place to visit, and now knowing that I have another firm foodie favourite, I’ll be skipping along to Ilkley more than usual.Have you been to Bistrot Pierre before? I’d love to know your favourite dish.