Cardiff has some really good restaurants and great food. Even our central market has quite a reputation for the good stuff (fish, meat, fruit and veg). But, occasionally, it’s nice to jump in the car – you know, when you’ve had a small lottery win and you can afford the fuel, and head west.
And if we’re heading down Swansea way, we inevitably end up in Mumbles. It’s like the Pontcanna of Cardiff, the Cowbridge of the Vale; you get the picture.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Mumbles. When we were kids, my parents would take us to the Gower for the day. We would always stop at Dick Barton’s in Mumbles, for sausage in batter and chips, on the way home. You can too! Dick Barton’s is still there. My parents told us he was a spy – Dick Barton Special Agent. Seemed plausible when I was seven – a spy who’s cover is he owns a chip shop in Mumbles. That worked for me.
We’d had the nod that we should try one particular restaurant: Bistrot Pierre. It’s situated overlooking Swansea Bay and, I imagine, on a beautiful day, sat on its veranda looking out across the water, when one wasn’t undertaking covert missions, it would be a pretty chilled thing to do.
When we got there it was evening and the big folding doors were closed. We could still see the lights curving around the bay though – very pretty, very atmospheric, very film noir.
Up to the first floor and we instantly loved the interior. The height and openness of the room is impressive – the stylish bar equally so. Throw in a brigade beavering away in the background glow of the open kitchen and the scene is set.
Having blown a considerable part of the budget on the hour drive down, the sight of the Menu Pierre at a very reasonable £22.95 meant we could bin the loan application. Three courses including a complimentary glass of the surprisingly excellent signature Cuvée 22 wine (or pint of Bière 94, or a soft drink), yes for £22.95! If you aren’t so peckish, you can run with two courses at a mere £19.95 (drinks, as above, included). The offer is available all day Sunday to Friday and Saturdays until 5pm.
Jack and I started with the plump Calamari, lightly spiced with garlic aioli, Jennifer the Chicken Liver Parfait. Both were excellent. Our entrées all hit the spot – we couldn’t resist trying a bit of each other’s, as you do.
If there was a slight hiccup, our bread basket arrived after the starter. Bit strange, but our waiter had an authentic French gruff about him (which we liked), so we thought best not rock the ‘inflatable’ (French for boat).
On to the ‘Plats’. Jack opted for the Steak-Frites (prime, pasture-fed British bavette cut minute steak. Pan-seared, served pink, with dressed leaves, pommes frites and peppercorn). Jennifer paid the £6 supplement and ordered the very nice 10oz sirloin. Both were very happy with their choices. Excellent chunky steak knives too. Had an enemy agent attacked at this point (yes, the spy theme is hanging on by its fingernails), I felt confident that I could have pinned them to the wall with a well executed throw. For effect, shrugs, in a French way.
Having not had fish for a while, I chose the Hake Bisque (pan-fried hake fillet, spinach, cherry tomatoes and buttered new potatoes with a seafood bisque). Its sauce must have illuminated my happy face very nicely – Jennifer commented “You’re enjoying that aren’t you?!” It was hard not to, the hake was beautifully cooked and all it needed to make it perfect was a little table seasoning.
To bring matters to a close, desserts were as follows: Pour moi: Vanilla ice cream (very creamy – perfection actually – other flavours, and a sorbet, are available). Jennifer: Vanilla crème brûlée (a French classic), and it was sublime. The thinnest crisp covering the creamiest custard. One of the best we’ve had, and, apparently, made on the premises every day. Jack played it relatively safe with the Sticky Toffee Pudding. It was, as you’d expect, sweet and indulgent.
You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the dreaded the F word. Best not. May the Swans and the Bluebirds soar. We are, in spririt, and gastronomy, Wales united.
It’s a shame that you have to drive an hour from Cardiff to experience Bistrot Pierre. We had one in Cardiff in early 2020 but the ravages of Covid and pressure on the sector put paid to it. Luckily for Swansea, theirs survived. It’s been there five years. If you haven’t tried it, then perhaps a day trip to Wales’ second city is in order. See what I did there? I know, never miss an opportunity to put them on the back foot (even if that foot is wearing a shoe with a hidden compartment). I know, the spy thing again … MJR
3 Oyster Wharf
Swansea SA3 4DN
Easy to book online
Where’s your favourite bistro?
We’d love to hear about your foodie favourites. Drop us a line!