Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Bistro La Barrique, Bath

Bistro La Barrique is a small French restaurant a few steps away from the Theatre Royal, that serves French food in the style of tapas or what they call “Petit plats”. I decided to take my mother there on monday as a day-late mother’s day treat. We went there for lunch because I had noticed that during the week Barrique do set lunch menu (2 ‘petit plats’ and 1 side dish for £8.95 each) that I thought looked good value for money. We were welcomed and taken to or seats by a nice French waitress, who explained the menu to us, and told us that the full menu is still available at lunch, but only a certain selections and some specials can be part of the lunch deal. This didn’t really matter as much, as I would have said over half of the normal menu is part of the lunch deal, and this included plenty of vegetarian choices (which is certainly something to praise a French restaurant for). However, I feel that the menu is slightly confused. I feel that there are far too many British elements to the food here. French cuisine is so wide, varied and fabulous, and yet they choose many foreign ingredients like English style dumplings, sauerkraut and stilton, and I feel that this is really not necessary, considering the great quality delicious French ingredients you can get in this country.

Anyway, so my mum ordered Wild mushroom flan with chive cream sauce, Gratinated ratatouille cannelloni, and a side of chips. I had the braised pork casserole with winter spiced dumplings, grilled mushroom with roasted vegetables, blue cheese and mixed leaves (from the specials menu) and a tomato, shallot and basil side salad. The food arrived fairly quickly, and hot. My pork casserole was delicious- slight cinnamon backbone with tender meat and very little dumplings. And the portion of this was fairly big as well. The tomato and shallot salad was fresh and slightly sweet due to a very tasty balsamic dressing running through it. However, my grilled mushroom dish was slightly disappointing. The blue cheese used with it was incredibly strong- not something I usually protest about as I am quite a fan of “smelly” cheese”- and its tangy sharp flavour really clashed against the bitter red pepper that was in the stuffed mushroom as well.

My mother enjoyed her dishes, and I felt after tasting them that they were a bit average. A bit “College-y” somehow- I remember doing ratatouille stuffed cheesy pancakes in the training college canteen and they tasted similar to her ratatouille cannelloni dish. The mushroom flan was rather strange- it had quite a nice, very rich mushroom flavour to it, but the texture and the look of the dish was very odd. It was a big perfect circular block of creamed mushroom, no pastry in sight. Very odd as a “flan”. Another disappointment, and certainly a pet peeve of mine, the side of chips were not chips as we know it, but premade “Oven Chips”. Oh how they make my blood boil, surely it’s not that difficult to slice and fry ruddy potatoes??

My mum and I finished the meal with some coffee. The bill at the end of the meal was £23, which I think is a fair price for the amount of dishes you get. My mum did enjoy her Mother’s day treat, but I feel that there could be some major improvements to this place. A little tweak here and there to the menu to make it a little more “French” and a little less “British catering student ‘French’”, stop using “fake” chips and then you have a restaurant that I want to go to. The surroundings are pleasant and the service was fast and friendly. I feel that I may come here again, for dinner, and try some different dishes from the menu. Maybe I chose wrong, I don’t know? Also apparently this place has a Fab wine selection as well. I think I shall give this place another go at some point, but in terms of this visit, I would rate the food as 4/10 and the service 9/10, giving it an overall rating of 6.5.

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