Sunday, 12 March 2017


Looking for a three course dinner in Liverpool priced at just £12.95? Not possible I hear you cry! Well let me take some time to introduce you to Bistro Franc on Hanover Street, Liverpool. This French restaurant has been operating in the city for a fair few years now and is famous for offering it's patrons a three course pre theatre menu for just that. Cheap? Yes, but is the food any good? With tickets to the Liverpool Empire theatre one evening last week to see the touring production of Rent and without wanting to spend an arm and a leg on dinner; it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it and find out.

We arrived for our prebooked table one cold and blustery Thursday evening to a fairly quiet dining area, I think most people were hiding from the weather! We were taken promptly to a table in the centre of the dining area which is predominantly decked out with dark wooden furnishings with smatterings of green here and there in keeping with Bistro Franc's logo. There are posters and murals of French iconography dotted around the place which might be considered tacky but there is just enough to prevent from being overkill (the French lessons in the toilet may be a step too far for some but I found them amusing!).

There is a full al la carte menu you can chose from if you don't want the pre-theatre menu or it's not available (4:30 till 7 midweek, till 6:30 Friday and Saturday) but we dived straight in to the set menu. There is a good selection of starters and mains and for my first course I went for the goats cheese and spinach tart. I found the pastry a bit dry but when eaten together with the beetroot puree on the side it worked really well. The filling was nice and the whole dish had a smokiness about it which if intentional, is the perfect compliment to the goats cheese and spinach.

For our second starter we decided to opt for another vegetarian dish, the tempura fried cauliflower. Once again, this was quite a small plate of food but for a starter it was perfect and everything on the plate was yummy. The batter was light and crispy whilst the cauliflower inside remained tender with a bit of bite to it to really provide some texture. The chili and lime jam on the side is where the dish gets a boost as when you combine it's blend of subtle heat and citrus zing with the more earthy flavors of the cauliflower, the plate sings. We would of happily eaten a big plate of this as a main if we could! 

Onto the mains now and I decided to go with the linguine served with butterflied king prawns, cherry tomatoes and spinach. I'll start by saying that the pasta was perfectly cooked so full marks for that. The prawns were also spot on, plump and juicy with a bit of bite. The tomatoes added a burst of fresh juiciness to the bowl whilst the spinach gives it touch of green freshness. The only problem with this dish was the seafood bisque. There was a bit too much of it making for quite a messy experience which is not good if you do have your theatre best on. You have been warned!

Our other main was a slightly less messy and more refined vegetarian affair. A whole baked spiced
aubergine stuffed with chili, garlic and tomato braised fennel, coriander and wild rice topped with a pile of fresh green leaves. It's great to see something different on a menu for vegetarians and this was a right treat. All components on the dish were cooked spot on (the carrots on the side could of been left off in fairness, they were a bit redundant!) especially the aubergine which was soft and full of flavor having soaked up the chili and garlic flavors from the fennel. Top marks!

Onto course number three now and our first pudding was this chocolate tart with a black cherry compote. The pastry on this tart was a lot better than the pastry on my starter, more light and crumbly and the perfect vessel for the rich and deep chocolate filling sat inside it. Chocolate tarts can be quite sickly if made poorly but this bad boy was just the right size to not too heavy on the belly whilst the marscapone cream on top along with the cherry compote cuts right through the richness of the chocolate to stop the dessert being completely one dimensional. Chocolate lovers will adore this!

If you prefer white chocolate however, I strongly advise you give the white chocolate and almond cheesecake a whirl. The body of this cheesecake was divine; light and fluffy with a whipped like quality to it, I'd actually quite like to know the recipe I enjoyed it that much. The almonds on top add a much needed nuttiness and crunch to keep things exciting whilst the rhubarb compote on top add a tartness which compliments the white chocolate perfectly. Finish with a mint leaf for a burst of freshness and a deliciously crumbly buttery biscuit base and you have the perfect pud.

So, is it worth the £12.95 price tag? Most defiantly! The dishes are small but after three courses we were just on the right side of full without being stuffed, perfect for then having to sit in the theatre for a few hours. Yes, we aren't taking about Michelin star food here but if you pick the right trio of dishes then you can have a really tasty meal. For me the vegetarians in your party are sorted with the cauliflower starter, aubergine main and the cheesecake being the stand out dishes. Pick those three  and you are totally getting bang or your buck! Be quick though as Bistro Franc's pre theatre menu does change regularly so don't miss out. Final verdict on Bistro Franc? Tres Magnifique! 

For more information on Bistro Franc and to see what's on their ever changing menu click here and head on over to their website!

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