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Le Poivrot, Colston Street: Review

Oct 23, 2017 #Colston Street #Le Poivrot
Le Poivrot - Steak Tartare
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It was in April 2017 that Le Poivrot on Colston Street opened its doors for the first time. Describing itself as a “modern wine bar with a fresh approach”, the focus is on good wine and good food: the former, predominantly French, the latter, bistro-style dishes with a seasonal slant.

We were invited in for the press launch of their new autumn menu, heralding the first time Le Poivrot has offered a complete food menu, compared with its previous more limited selection.

It’s a beautiful place – a far cry from the fancy dress and joke shop that the Colston Street premises used to house. While the sex shop next door boasts gaudy, playful window displays, Le Poivrot is rather more tame: its classy dark blue outside paintwork paves the way into a compact yet airy dining room with plenty of woods, blues and golds, and a stunningly mosaic’ed wall behind the bar.

There’s small snug area at the very back that offers a different ambiance altogether, but the feel of the whole place is one that’s relaxed and casual, yet tasteful.

The kitchen is open plan, and it’s small: in fact, it takes up half of the bar area so it’s easy to watch the kitchen team (whose experience includes a stint at Wilks, which always bodes well) at work. On the night, we were there to work our way through seven different dishes, sharing with others at our table and with those who, unlike me, aren’t pregnant, getting to enjoy matched wines with every course.


Le Poivrot - Menu


We began the evening with a meaty slab of duck terrine which was beautifully pressed and set with plenty of flavour. The autumnal accompaniments included thick slices of poached quince and dollops of a rich quince purée with a fantastic fragrance and sweetness, along with a tangy, earthy hazelnut vinaigrette and candied hazelnuts which reminded me of the paper bags of caramelised nuts that were hawked on beaches in the south of France on family holidays, growing up.


Le Poivrot - Terrine


Next up, a beetroot and goats cheese salad, which promised pickled beetroot, a goats cheese mousse, fresh apple and candied walnuts. Another beautiful plate of food with plenty of colour, flavour and texture. I was expecting some acidity from the pickled beetroot but instead it was earthy and sweet, and the variety of colours was a nice touch. The toasted walnuts had a good caramelised flavour and were mixed with the tiniest cubes of fresh green apple, whose flavour was pretty overpowered, in all honesty. The mousse itself? Beautiful – lovely and light and creamy, with the requisite goaty tang.


Le Poivrot - Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad

The chicory tart with blue cheese croquettes, caramelised fig and mustard frills was probably my least favourite course of the evening. Cooked down in caramelised butter, the chicory was lovely and tender but still retained some of the signature bitterness we expected. Sadly the blue cheese croquette my husband and I shared was completely empty, but we heard good things from those around us who enjoyed plenty of the creamy filling. The discs of fig were less caramelised than expected but lovely and sweet, while the pastry of the tart itself was thin and crisp, but possibly a little overdone.


Le Poivrot - Chicory Tart


The smell of truffle oil from the kitchen heralded the arrival of the next course – the steak tartare which has quickly become Le Poivrot’s signature dish. While the French tend to serve every element of the dish separately for diners to mix themselves, it’s a pre-mixed version served here, and it’s incredible, too. They use sirloin for its juiciness, diced into tender chunks and mixed with cornichons, shallot, parsley and a hint of heat. The tang of the caperberries and the peppery radish cut through its richness, while the toast is crisp and doused in plenty of salt and oil. Surprisingly, it’s served with a confit egg yolk – which takes away the excitement of bursting it over the steak, but it was well executed nonetheless.


Le Poivrot - Steak Tartare


Course five was gurnard, accompanied with potato gnocchi, baby violet artichokes, wild mushrooms and a mushroom broth. Presentation-wise, I wasn’t convinced – it was all a bit black and gloomy. The Cornish gurnard was beautifully cooked and seasoned well, and the artichokes firm and full of flavour. The earthy mushroom broth had just a hint of something boozy – but the gnocchi were a bit of a let-down – the colour just didn’t appeal, and they were undercooked and a bit gluey and doughy.


Le Poivrot - Gurnard


The partridge with baby parsnips, shallot, blackberries and PSB was another highlight: the bird tender with a slight gaminess, the blackberries huge and juicy, the PSB with a good crunch. The shallot added more texture, and the baby parsnips were just cooked enough, releasing their sweetness but with a bit of a grainy, woody texture. One small niggle was that I felt the partridge itself could have done with a touch more seasoning.


Le Poivrot - Partridge


The final course was a classic bavette steak with frites, served with a fresh leaf salad from the local Severn Project. No complaints with the steak, which was nicely seasoned and cooked perfectly medium rare, but the skin-on fries were disappointing, needing either more cooking, a different potato variety or both – they were pretty floury.


Le Poivrot - Bavette


All in all, we were pretty impressed – the food was both inventive and beautiful, and while there were a few niggles, we’re sure a lot of this could have been down to the sheer number of people the tiny kitchen had to cater for all at the same time. One thing that really did stand out was the service: on discovering that I was pregnant, I was immediately offered a ginger ale and grenadine concoction instead of the aforementioned wine, I was told which of the cheeses served as nibbles on arrival were unpasteurised, and I was offered a plate of steak with some slivers slightly better cooked than others as rare meat is supposed to be a no-no. It was little touches like these that really made my night – and combined with a relaxed atmosphere, exciting food and a convenient location, I’m sure I’ll be back for more soon.


Please note: our meal was received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.


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