Review – Bistro Nantais
Open in the heart of Hove is your new favourite French bistro. The mastermind of Pascal Benamari who’s previously worked at La Fourchette, Havana Spoon, Terre a Terre and of course, his former stomping ground just down the road, Brasserie Pascal.
Situated just past Palmeria Square, opposite St John’s Church, Bistro Nantais has a gloriously welcome feel to it yet retains a modern and refreshing interior. Long gone are the days of Harry’s and Forty One with their large oak tables, Bistro Nantais is contemporary and classy with light grey walls, candles and a well thought out floor plan, incorporating many tables without feeling like you’re dining on top of one another.
Open from 9am, Bistro Nantais hosts a wonderful collection of French and English breakfasts and brunches, starting at a mere £3.75 for fresh fruit salad. A traditional plate of croissants, french bread, confiture, freshly squeezed juice plus coffee starts at £5.95. Pascal offers a signature dish, ’Pascal’s Breakfast’, consisting of l’oeuf à la coque (soft boiled eggs to you and I), smoked salmon and a beurre nantais sauce for only £6.95. With a south facing patio, it’s easy to picture spending many a morning here, basking in the sunshine, watching the world go by.
The lunch menu runs from 12-5pm and is already proving to be a popular choice. Upon my visit, there wasn’t a spare table going and I’d recommend checking availability or booking ahead if you plan on visiting. Two courses are priced at £8.95 with three coming in at £10.95. Superb value for money and after sampling the menu, it was easy to see why Pascal’s food is so popular.
Ordering the soup of the day, which happened to be a classic French onion, followed by the beef bourguignon proved to be a winning combination. The soup was served in beautiful, ornate bowls and was laced with silky and sweet slathers of slow cooked onion. Topped with a slice of cheese coated bread, I marvelled in watching the slice of loaf saturate with the warm, mellow broth. Filling and a meal in its own right, the starter was a sure fire indication that Pascal can truly cook excellent traditional French cuisine.
The beef bourguignon came with a side of smooth, creamy and luxurious mashed potatoes and a generous helping of tender green beans. The bourguignon was dark, rich and contained some of the most tender chunks of beef I’ve recently encountered. Swimming amongst the red wine sauce were bites of earthy mushroom and the whole dish was a further delectable example of Pascal’s cooking.
Generous portion sizes meant no room for dessert, however tempting they may have been.
Bistro Nantais is a fantastic new addition to the Brighton and Hove dining scene. Affordable, bustling and welcoming, serving beautifully cooked French cuisine throughout the day. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely brunch, a relaxing lunch or a high quality evening meal, Bistro Nantais can accommodate for any occasion. Why not give them a whirl this Friday and take advantage of their 241 cocktail offer before enjoying some of the best French cooking this side of Sussex.
Originally printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent Newspaper 17/1/14
Words and photograph by Claire Beveridge