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Food review - Bistro 21, Southport

Andrew Edwards gives the lowdown on this Stanley Street bistro

Bistro 21, Southport

TASTER menus are in vogue, and for good reason. They give you the chance to test the talent of restaurant's chef, and get a cross section of the offerings from the menu.

My wife and I have been promising ourselves a visit to Bistro 21 on Stanley Street, Southport, for some time since the premises was taken over from restaurateur Paul Lang six months ago by Peter and Jan Atkinson.

The taster menu was the perfect way to taker a journey through its gastronomic offering. And we were not disappointed. Bistro 21 has taken the taster to a new dimension, creating a tapas experience with some classic English and continental dishes, which not only taste great, but look stunning. It's at a competitive price too, for a high-end restaurant, at only £15.95 a head Monday to Thursday and Sunday, £17.95 Friday and £22.95 Saturday.

This includes three starters and two mains from the extensive taster menu which has six choices of each. After being welcomed to the restaurant by the genuinely friendly staff we sat at our table, ordered a bottle of the excellent El Picador Chilean Sauvignon Blanc at £18.95 and pored over the menu.

For starters I plumped for the risotto ham hock with piccalilli and peas, topped with parmesan cheese and chives along with black pudding fritters with chilli and stilton, and the beef carpaccio - a seared, finely sliced raw fillet cut with caper salsa and radish.

Andrew's starter at Bistro 21

All were beautifully presented on one platter each and tasted as good as they looked. It was real quality cooking with a subtle blend of flavours, which all came through on the taste buds.

My wife too went for the black pudding, along with the deep fried mozzarella with pesto mayonnaise and  balsamic dressing and  the King Prawns in Thai coconut chilli sauce with fragrant basmati. I can vouch for the fact that they too were gorgeous. I couldn't resist leaning across and having a taste.

After a very acceptable break between courses it was time for the mains to arrive, and as they were placed in front of us we drooled ... coveting each others' choices at the same time. We had made a strategic decision not to duplicate on our orders, so that we could have a little taste of each others and get the maximum range to sample from the menu. But my wife had sneakily 'got in first' and beat me to the punch on the gorgeous looking peppered fillet steak; a pan-fried mini fillet with brandy peppered sauce and chunky chips. She was also quick on the draw  with the king prawns in Thai coconut chilli sauce and fragrant basmati rice.

I choose the ham hock roulade bound in panco breadcrumbs with gribiche sauce, capers, gherkin and a tangy, but not overpowering mustard sauce.

My second main turned out to be  my favourite; lamb shoulder, slowly braised, with redcurrant jelly, lamb stock and fresh mint jus, served on dauphinoise potatoes and accompanied by a mini parcel of vegetables. It was outstanding, a gorgeous sort of compact micro-Sunday lunch, which had been beautifully cooked and stunningly presented.

In fact presentation all round was exceptional, and it matched the light, modern decor of the restaurant, a place where you can see your food, and each other, yet not be blinded by glare. The taster menu certainly gives you a great overview of the dining experience Bistro 21 offers, and there are plenty of other choices to, including the a la carte and table d'hote.

The restaurant  changes the taster menu on a frequent basis too, just to keep things interesting. In fact it's changed again recently  ... looks like it's time for another booking

 

Price: £50.85 including wine.

Address: 21 Stanley Street, Southport,PR9 OBS.

Phone: 01704 501414

website:  www.bistro21.co.uk


 

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