Bistro Montparnasse has been in Southsea, Portsmouth since 1999 and it’s always been somewhere I’ve meant to go to, but never quite made it. On Friday evening I finally paid them a visit along with my good friend, Catia. Read on to see what we thought of it…
The restaurant has been in the Michelin Guide each year since 2005 – possibly earlier but the stickers in the doorway show only from then. We’ve reviewed a few restaurants featured in the Michelin Guide, including Restaurant 27, also in Southsea, The Five Fields, just off the King’s Road in Chelsea (which was excellent) and more recently The Richmond Arms in West Ashling, West Sussex. Bistro Montparnasse also feature in The Good Food Guide and have a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.
We were offered water right from the start by a very lovely and friendly young waitress. Whilst we were looking at the menu trying to decide which dishes to order, we were given a plate of nibbles. Lime and chilli cashews (bit of a kick to them) honey & mustard humus, black & green olives and candied aubergine .
The nibbles were served with wafer thin toasted bread. All very tasty.
Catia was driving so I was able to indulge in a drink or two. I pulled out the stops and had a champagne cocktail, not something I would normally order. Passionfruit, blackcurrant and pomegranate. It was lovely. Catia had a taste and thought the same. After the cocktail I had a glass of Vinas Aymara Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.
We were offered bread, home-made and as much as we wanted but we weren’t too greedy, taking only two each. Although it was rather tempting to take more as it was so good. The bread was presented in a large basket, beautifully arranged which the waitress held before us. There were squares of focaccia, slices of granary with walnuts and lots of sultanas in it and round balls of white bread. The butter was spreadable – yay! Two types which were both excellent. One seasoned which was nice and salty whilst the other was a sweet mango.
Pre-starter was carrot & orange spume with cardamom crème fraîche. This was similar to eating a light and fluffy cloud. Not that I’ve really had any experience of eating a cloud, but one can imagine this is what it would be like. It looks beautiful doesn’t it? A wonderful colour too. It just melted in the mouth.
The braised lamb was excellent. Nice and tender with just a subtle hint of mint, served with split broad beans. A light and airy profiterole containing a smooth and creamy garlic sauce was very tasty. The gravy was amazing and we just had to mop it all up with the bread we were offered again.
I loved the sound of all the dishes on the menu but of course, I do love belly pork so it just had to be that choice for me …this time anyway. My pork was beautifully presented, as were all the dishes. A lovely tender belly pork laying on a soft and creamy bed of puréed sweet potato, spinach, a slice of poached peach and delicious gravy once again. Small pieces of crunchy Ameretto were sprinkled over the dish.
The Dauphinoise potatoes were really tasty. Layers upon layers of thinly sliced potatoes with a creamy white sauce and delicate hint of cheese, which even my husband Geoff would not have noticed and would have enjoyed – he’s not a fan of cheese you see.
The vegetables served were honey glazed baby carrots, nutmeg broccoli and baby sweetcorn.
Catia chose yoghurt parfait (a frozen yoghurt), orange blossom meringue, mango and blood orange – which were the little colourful blobs on the plate.
I went for the prosecco poached pear which was so succulent and cooked to pearfection. Sitting upon a thin piece of lemon shortbread, and dotted with blobs of blueberries and mango around the outside making it look really pretty.
And the inside…this was the blueberry cheesecake – wow! Creamy, smooth and tasting absolutely divine.
I do like to finish off the meal with an espresso. Mainly in the hope of being given petit fours, which I love. I like little touches like that and Bistro Montparnesse didn’t fail to deliver. The coffee was a perfect creamy espresso shot. Not bitter in the slightest.
The petit fours were again, home-made. Dark chocolate cherry brandy and creamy smooth fudge pieces.
Bistro Montparnasse has room for 30 diners. We sat to the left of the doorway shown in the photo above. The peachy decor and the little candles on the tables made it look very cosy and quite romantic and the place had a nice ambience to it. The service was excellent and each dish was explained when it was placed before us. It wasn’t cheap. Two courses at £35, three for £41 and just shy of £100 between us. But then I did have the champagne cocktail, a glass of wine and a coffee. We both agreed that it was absolutely worth it. Every dish went back with nothing left on it. Completely clean they were. If they’d had a pattern, we would have scraped it away.
Catia and I really enjoyed the whole evening and are hoping to return. It’s a ‘must visit’ if you’re in the area.
Living life, loving cake.