This bistro would be a great find for anyone travelling through New Ross – a few minutes from the centre of town, the owner-chef Gilles Laforges is well known in the area and fans continually beat a path to his door.
It’s a simple enough looking place on the ground floor of a modern three-storey apartment block – a plain but smartly painted white exterior has a large window, with the menu prominently displayed French-style in a case beside the door.
Entering through a small porch, you’ll find an equally simple but pleasing rectangular room, with wooden floor, cream walls and modern dark brown wallpaper on two sections, and a series of tables for two (easily put together for larger groups) set up with cream runners and napkins, no-nonsense but good quality cutlery and glasses, and a small dish of olives; with a semi-open kitchen at the rear, quiet music and a casual but prompt and friendly reception from the all-French staff, it conveys a business-like yet pleasantly welcoming ambience which bodes well for a good meal.
And you should not be disappointed: water is served promptly, along with good bread and chervil butter to munch while you make the difficult choices from a set Chef’s Menu (choice of three on each course, changed weekly), blackboard specials, or an à la carte offering all sorts of delectable dishes including starters like duck confit, Dublin bay prawns, goats cheese tart, and snails in garlic butter, and mains such as Dublin Bay prawns, baked cod with parmesan crust, pan-fried scallops, rack of lamb, and corn-fed chicken.
An amuse-bouche (hot potato and chorizo, perhaps) gets the evening off to a good start, swiftly followed by excellent starters such as smoked haddock and potato gratin with poached egg or battered crab with pineapple, chilli & coriander salsa – and then the nice surprise of an extra ‘between’ course (a refreshing shot glass of iced apple juice, pineapple and peach snaps maybe) before perfectly cooked main courses such as fillet of John Dory with chive and lemon butter sauce or rack of lamb with confit garlic cream, served with a choice of potatoes and a shared dish of seasonal vegetables.
Finish perhaps with a perfectly cooked crème brulée or warm pancake with praline cream – and round off a lovely meal with a well-made espresso.
Simply garnished and presented on rectangular white plates, every dish is appealing and there is attention to detail in the cooking as well as the excellent raw ingredients used (meat suppliers noted on menu). The additional small touches such as the amuse-bouche and shot glass of juice, set it apart from anything else in the area, the fish cooking is excellent and it is refreshing to find such good vegetables.
The wine list is predominately French and, although little information is given on producers, small vineyards are used and it is reasonably priced.