Bistrot Pierre- Gas Street, Birmingham City Centre
The Birmingham branch of the Bistrot Pierre chain opened at the start of July, filling a long unused building which sits with Gas Street on one side and the Gas Street basin of the canal on the other. Inside, it has been renovated in fine style, from the boutique-hotel feel of the main entrance hall to the many different places you can choose to sit. There are two outside spaces, walled in but open to the sky, and two floors of interior rooms decorated upstairs with a decadence of red plush and gilt mirrors and downstairs with French posters throughout. Windows on the ground floor frame views of passerbys on the tow-path, and the low hum of passing canal boats.
The best new addition is the glass box on the first floor, which offers views over the canal. Having eaten here twice now, the glass box seating should only be requested on the very coldest of days, as it is so hot than even on a mild day, you rapidly begin to sweat. If you can stand the heat, it is a unique place to sit and eat in Birmingham; the views (especially of the abandoned and exceptionally unattractive James Brindley pub opposite) aren’t fancy, but the people watching is excellent, and it is a different perspective on the canal you won’t find elsewhere.
The service here is both friendly and attentive; on both occasions we have visited, for brunch and dinner, the waiting staff have been delightful. Drinks arrive in branded Bistrot Pierre heavy mugs, and brunch can begin.
It seems obligatory to try the croissants in a French-themed restaurant. The jam was as English as they come (no Bonne Maman ultra-theming here). The croissant was crumbly and pretty much exactly what you imagine you will get when you order a croissant.
I ordered scrambled eggs on brioche, or ‘oeufs brouilles’. The eggs were exceptionally light and fluffy. The brioche was fairly sodden from the eggs above, and I would have liked it if the eggs had been on the side to prevent this; mental note to request this next time we visit. The whole dish tasted much lighter and fresher than plain old scrambled eggs on toast.
The full English was up next. Even a French themed restaurant knows this must be on offer on a breakfast menu here: the ‘petit dejeuner Anglais’. Good quality ingredients, and the sausages were especially praised.
The toilets lurk downstairs, past the wine cellar which is nestled in a long closed up offshoot of the main canal. Individual toilet cubicles with more French prints and gilt mirrors. The tiled and paneled finish is pretty, but more importantly, there is a Dyson hand-dryer, and lovely fancy soaps and moisturizers.
Price: mid range: £7.50 for a full English, £2.50 for a croissant, £3.50 for a 2 egg ‘oeufs brouilles’
Atmosphere and design: French themed, lots of red plush, huge gold mirrors inside, lavendar sprigs to decorate, lots of focus on the windows as a feature, especially in the new glass box addition
Food: French themed
Toilets: lovely, newly renovated, Dysons, nice hand cream
Enjoyment: great service, fun to people watch, will be a good venue to sit outside in the summer (request an outside table when you book)