Homely vibes and authentic French cooking in the heart of Barcelona
Perpignan is only a two-hour drive from Barcelona. But although this proximity to France has cast an undeniable influence over Catalan cuisine, Barcelona isn’t exactly brimming with traditional French restaurants. The ones we do have tend to be more formal, rigid affairs with prices that are less than accessible. For bon viveurs such as myself looking for the ‘joie de vivre’ without breaking the bank, this is a rather distressing reality.
And so it was to my utter delight to hear that a traditional, down-to-earth bistro was opening up in the city centre. Le Bistrot de Pierrot is the creation and dream project of Pierre Verchere, a young gourmet from Lyon (aka “The Stomach of France”).
Situated on a quiet side street just off the thronging Via Laietana, its simple facade projects the warmth and familiarity of all good bistros. The interior is equally rustic, with exposed brick walls and vintage posters from France, and a cosy dining room with evocative red and white tablecloths. Pierre, who left a long and lucrative career as a headhunter behind to open the restaurant, did almost all of the work himself and relished the chance to create something for himself.
Playing the role of maître d’, sommelier and garçon, Pierre bolts from behind the bar to the kitchen pass, delivering hearty plates of happiness to grateful diners and popping bottles of good French plonk in between.
In true bistro style, you can drop by for everything from a casual afterwork drink at the bar with a cheeseboard and some good bread to a full-on feast. Chef Walid hails from Bordeaux and can be seen commanding the huge open kitchen, hunched over giant cauldrons and simmering copper pots.
The menu is scrawled in chalk on huge blackboards. The food is rich and satiating, with creative combinations of ingredients that sound complex when compared to comparative Spanish cooking. “In Spain it’s not so much about elaborating flavours. They like to taste the quality of the product on its own. But in France we are obsessive about elaborating flavours, combining ingredients to create something new and different” Pierre explained as I gushed over a huge bowl of oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in red wine sauce).
Other delights include the raviole du Dauphiné (a rich cheese and pasta melange), and filet de daurade (bream). The magret de canard (duck with honey, orange and thyme) is a must for anyone who wants to take a quick mental voyage to France.
As to be expected, most, if not all, of the wine comes from France. “I know people in the wine industry,” Pierre explained. And like the cheese, he drives over the border to collect it on a regular basis. Less likely though is Pierre’s focus on biodynamic and organic wines, sourced from his friends in and around the Côtes du Rhône and Cahors wine regions.
Finish with desserts like moelleux d'ardèche (chestnut cake), or keep it French and order a mixed cheese board and another bottle of wine.
There’s everything to love about this authentic little nook of France. The food is 100% the real deal, the wine’s great and the prices are excellent. In short, it just feels right. This really is “the good life”.
By Ben Holbrook http://www.driftwoodjournals.com
Le Bistrot de PierrotCarrer de Julià Portet, 6, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Area: Barrio Gótico
Website: Le Bistrot de Pierrot - Barcelona
Opening hours: Tue – Thu 12.00pm – 12.00am. Friday and Saturday 12.00pm – 01.00am
Phone: +34 931 69 05 61