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Swan's Nest Hotel
Bridgfoot, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 7LT
French bistro with delicious, hearty French food, children's menu and excellent kids' activity book.
Tucked inside a hotel on the other side of the river from the theatre, it is just yards from the Butterfly Farm. There is pay-and-display parking.
With three little boys we rarely risk a meal out. But our trip to Le Bistrot Pierre in Stratford-upon-Avon was so much fun it's given us an appetite for more. It certainly gives Cafe Rouge more than a run for its money. It's very reasonable (£6.50 for kids' main, dessert and drink, £10.95 for adults' 2-course meal), everything we had was really delicious and it has the best free restaurant activity book I've ever seen. Hand-drawn by the director's wife, it's got 16 pages (16!) of mazes, colouring-in, word search, doodles, games, code-cracking and a rather brilliant story with gaps to fill in which had us in hoots.
The (French) staff were lovely and attentive, giving us a choice of whether to bring the children's food, and whether we wanted plastic cups or plates. They had the Burger, the Omelette and the Tarte Flambée. The older boys devoured theirs but the three-year-old found the four cheese topping of the tart too strong to eat much of, and polished off my chips for me <helpful>. The nice waiter obligingly agreed to bag-up the remains so we could take them home.
I had a Heritage Tomato and Roquefort Salad, and my husband had golden crispy-and-tender Calamari with garlic aioli. I followed my starter with a Minute Steak so large it filled half my plate, cooked rare as I'd asked, and perfectly toothsome. My husband's special Lamb Cassoulet on flageolet beans was “competently cooked, very lean, very tender” but not spectacular. All wonderfully hearty for a wet autumn afternoon.
The puddings were spectacular – very beautifully presented and enthusiastically polished off.
The bill came to just under £50, including a bottle of Perrier and a glass of white wine, which – astonishingly – is a lot cheaper than the raucous and greasy meal we previously attempted at an Italian-American chain.
Le Bistrot Pierre has hit on a brilliant formula – well-cooked, thoughtful, unpretentious family food without the gimmicks in smart premises. We'll definitely go again.
It also has pay-and-display parking just outside, and it's right by the Butterfly Farm. We had a very enjoyable stroll across the river where we watched the locks working as the river met the canal, and did a free Peter Pan-themed fairy trail around the theatre. It made for a wonderful day out.
Here's a fuller review of Le Bistrot Pierre:
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