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Bistro Franc opening stampede

Confidential sneaks into the launch night of Liverpool's latest restaurant

Published on January 14th 2010.

Bistro Franc opening stampede

LIVERPOOL Confidential is always keen to tell you about new places it has spotted, for better or for worse, but even it was rather surprised to find itself among 200-odd people, last night, all eating and drinking for free.

No, it wasn't a publicly-funded beano either, but on the house. The house of Mark Friend and Steve Slater, those merry mirthsters who run Bistro Pierre and Bistro Jacques. This week the Liverpool business partners added Bistro Franc to their trinity, and opening night was Wednesday. A kitchen nightmare or did it go like a well-greased baking tray dream?

Word had quickly got round and the restaurant's supporters and friends were queuing out of the door of Church House by 8.30, to get a table at this huge Hanover Street restaurant which used to be the offices of the Bishop of Liverpool.

Pierre and its frere, Jacques, are well known for packing them in with popular promotions in which diners can enjoy a free bottle of wine EACH with their food, on certain nights of the week.

And while Confidential has rarely gone the whole way with this deal, the morning after it mysteriously feels like it has gone the whole way and is never coming back.

So this is not a proper review (we'll go back some other time when the kitchen has had chance to settle down and we have stopped saying “never again”.) It's just “FYI” as they say in emails, and as we took some pictures, here we go.

Bistro Franc's friendly staff did their bosses proud on this opening night, weaving in and out of the noise and tables like they had been doing it all their lives.

And what a setting. The place is handsome and on two floors, the upper floor a gallery. Exceedingly tall windows allow the light to flood in. At 130 covers, it is more ambitious than its stablemates, although the menu is very

similar, call it modern English, rather than French.

There are various duck, chicken, rump of lamb, roasted cod and sea bass sitting atop islands of champ and colcannon in pools of reduced sauces and beds of pea purée.

Most expensive main is a £16.50 beef fillet and, as in the Button Street and Hardman Street outfits, there are various promos which look like good value to entice punters to sit at the red gingham-adorned tables.

From where Confidential was sitting, it all seemed to go like clockwork and by the time our three amigos daintily negotiated the long flight of stairs from the gallery and out of the place, the chaos was beginning to subside.

Our chorizo and black pudding starter, red pepper risotto and sweet potato soup had been perfectly good, and the mains, rump of lamb in a port reduction, duck breast with an orange and Cointreau sauce and whatever the other one was, all went down agreeably enough, although the sauces could have been a bit more distinctive. Again, the service was good and nothing had sat under the lights for more than a minute, even our old friends the vegetable medley in a side dish.

And even though it must have been mental in the melting point kitchen, they still found time to parcel up a doggie bag of pork crackling, in the shape of a duck, which the Confidential canine duly enjoyed as a surprise midnight snack.

What we can certainly say at this stage is that it's good to see a city-owned restaurant business thrive and expand in 2009 and the “Bistro” chain, with its informality, ambience and reasonable prices, certainly has its fans. Just look at them.

So francs for having us with your free flowing vin, Bistro Franc (but never on a school night, not no more).

Bistro Franc
Church House
Hanover Street
L1 3DW
0151 708 9993

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Cardamon Basil HumousMay 21st 2009.

He got fed up of all the people coming in and scoffing his dinner so he tightened his bible belt and according to a popular Hymn, is rumoured To be in the Pilgrim.

Fifi FrenchMay 21st 2009.

What's happened to the Bishop of Liverpool then?

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