Improved Real Ale Outlet - Winter 2011
Every now and then Keighley & Craven CAMRA present an “Improved Pub Award” to an establishment in the branch area which members consider merits special recognition for an increase in the range and quality of cask-conditioned ales on sale, or, in some cases, starting to sell such ales where previously there were none. However, as the latest recipient of the award is not, strictly speaking, a pub, although customers are welcome to just pop in for a pint, we have decided to re-name the award “Improved Real Ale Outlet Award” in this particular case.
Beer at the Bistro
The affable Luc Daguzan - Frenchman by birth and Yorkshireman by adoption - has lived and worked in England for over twenty-five years and will be familiar to many local readers who enjoy fine wining and dining as well as fine ales. Originally hailing from Angers on the Loire, Luc is an experienced and accomplished chef and “maitre d‘ ” and has worked, amongst other places, at the Angel at Hetton, Salvo‘s in Headingley, Leeds and the former Canalside restaurant in Skipton. However a long-held ambition to open his own eating and drinking establishment on which he could stamp his individual personality and tastes (the latter in more ways than one!) came to fruition in November last year, when most of the country was in the grip of one of the longest, coldest winters on record, with the opening of “Le Bistro des Amis” in Jerry Croft, Skipton - behind and above Claire Whittaker‘s chocolate shop, just off the High Street and adjacent to the town hall.
“Le Bistro” tries, pretty successfully, to be all things to all people, food- & drink-wise. It‘s a coffee lounge, wine bar, informal bistro and gourmet restaurant all rolled into one, with a relaxed, chilled atmosphere which makes it very hard to leave. Most importantly from a CAMRA perspective, as well as having a long and well-chosen wine list, it has a proprietor who enjoys a pint or two of real ale at the end of a long, hot shift in the kitchen, and Luc insists that his two favourite beers - Ilkley Mary-Jane and Timothy Taylor Landlord are always on the bar and kept in top condition, by bar manager Damien, who cut his teeth at the Narrow Boat several years ago.
On entering the rambling early nineteenth century building, the main bar is on the right, just to the left of the stairs leading to the first floor restaurant, kitchen and toilets. As well as the afore-mentioned real ales, it also features several keg beers, including two from the Bernard brewery in the Czech Republic, an impressive selection of wines from all over the world and what is probably Yorkshire‘s biggest range of different pastis (the French aperitif - not the Cornish packed lunch!). There is also a glass display case containing some interesting French and Italian sausages and salamis. In front of the bar there are several low tables surrounded by comfy armchairs - ideal for chilling-out with a coffee or a glass of something stronger while reading the papers or chatting with friends. To the left of the bar is a larger, similarly-furnished room which can be used for drinking or informal bistro-style dining and from which a staircase leads up to a smaller, more intimate, first-floor mezzanine dining area up among the roof timbers. From here a corridor, which can sometimes be used for dining on very busy evenings, leads past the kitchen to the top of the other staircase and on through to the main restaurant area, which looks out onto the busy High Street with its weekday market. There is another bar at the end of this room, but its single handpump is not normally used. However, the well-trained, friendly staff will be happy to bring real ale upstairs from the main bar on request. The whole place is decorated in soft, relaxing colours with paintings and photos, not surprisingly, mainly on a French theme. The unobtrusive recorded music - often gentle jazz or blues - is not always French.
The excellent, good value food is largely Mediterranean-themed (both French and Italian), with a wide range of meat, fish and seafood dishes. Vegetarians are also well catered-for and those with more traditional Yorkshire tastes will enjoy the Sunday roast, although if you are driving, beware of the red wine gravy! Children, with well-behaved parents, are made very welcome. Opening hours are 10 am until late Mondays to Saturdays, with last food orders at 2.30 for lunch and 9.00 for dinner and 11am until 10.30pm on Sundays, with last food orders at 8pm. The Bistro may be closed on certain winter Mondays - phone in advance to check.
At the time of writing the date for the presentation of the award has not been finalised, but we are hoping that it will take place on a Tuesday evening in January, co-inciding with a planned branch Christmas/New Year Dinner at the Bistro. Keep an eye on our events page for details. In the meantime, go and try it for yourselves. You will receive a warm welcome from Luc, Liz, Damien and the team, whether you just have a pint, coffee and cakes or a full meal. If you are lunching or dining booking is essential, as the Bistro is deservedly very busy throughout the week, especially in the run-up to Christmas. The phone number is 01756 797919.Web-site at http://www.lebistrodesamis.co.uk/