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The big deal: Bistro Franc

How to treat yourself to a slap-up lunch without incurring a financial wobble

Published on January 14th 2010.

The big deal: Bistro Franc

What are they selling?
Lunch rapide – three courses for £7.95. Midday to 4.30pm daily.

Location, location?
On the corner of Hanover Street and Paradise Street, Bistro Franc would have struggled before the arrival of Liverpool One but now, right next door to John Lewis, it's in pole position to pack 'em in.

How does it look?
Occupying a goodly portion of Grade II listed Church House, the handsome, two-storey interior – windows reaching all the way to Heaven, an ornate balcony – has been adorned with all manner of French paraphernalia resulting in a jolly, egalitarian environment.

Are you sitting comfortably?
Friday lunchtime was heaving. Luckily they pull off the neat trick of accommodating loads of tables without you feeling hemmed in. Merry French mood music is not really needed but nor does it intrude on the cheery chatter filling the room.

Civil service?
Very. And quick, especially considering the place was bulging at the seams with hungry punters.

Who's in there?
A couple of suits but mainly shoppers whose fuel levels are reading empty.

What's cooking?
Starters include soup, spring rolls and a seafood medley, while panfried coley with dill, lemon and caper butter and tender chicken in a creamy forestiere sauce are among five kinds of main course. Puddings and cheeses change daily.

Is it any good though?
It's not going to win any Michelin stars and the regulation side dish of steamed vegetables is more bountiful than beautiful. But there are enough plus

points among the three courses to make if feel like a good deal: starting with soft bruschetta topped with cranberry-flecked Wensleydale cheese and drizzled with herb oil, and finishing with a melting apple crumble and custard that was total comfort food.

Something for the vegetarian?
The soup was mushroom and the spring rolls filled with mixed vegetables, but there was only one vegetarian choice among the mains – a better-than-average ratatouille, served with couscous.

Bog standard?
The toilets are pretty spick and span with the added bonus of French lessons (makes a change from French letters), pre-recorded and piped into the room while you use the facilities. The longer you're in there, the more you learn, so your grasp of the Gallic will obviously depend on the nature of your visit.

At this price, am I going to want to go to the chippy afterwards?
Not unless you are a greedy git. Bistro Franc's grub is big and filling. For an honest feed at the end of a long hard shop, it's a place to return to. We might even be tempted to pay £2.95 extra for the plat du jour – chargrilled ribeye with garlic butter.

Where again?
Bistro Franc, Church House, Suite B, 1 Hanover Street, Liverpool L1 3DW. Tel. 0151 708 9993.

Perfectly Franc.

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Wavy GravyOctober 30th 2009.

Love this place. Mmmm. Might disappear for the rest of the afternoon.

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