HE more I eat out the more the restaurants seem to be aping the music business.
We’ve got all these rock star chefs going wham, bam, thank you maam with big, big flavours, wacky ingredients and weird partnerships.
No thanks, you can keep that snail out of my porridge.
Where the rock star guitarist will make you thrill to his latest riff, the rock star chef wants you to get a buzz from his broccoli foam.
Now I’m a dedicated follower of fashion just like the next foodie but you cannot dine off novelty alone.
I’m just appealing for a little calm. I don’t want pop, I want classical.
Classical French, as it turns out. And there’s some in Bakewell.
Piedaniel’s restaurant in a mock Tudor building in Bath Street has been the home and business of French chef Eric Piedaniel and his wife Christiana for the last 17 years.
“I still feel the same as I did in the first year,” says Eric, originally from Normandy, who changed the restaurant’s name from Renaissance a couple of years back.
We called in for lunch after visiting the last Bakewell farmers’ market and were lucky to get in because we hadn’t booked.
Once the restaurant was a bit of secret, with usually not more than four or five tables occupied on a Saturday in a small side room.
These days Eric and Christiana can do 200 lunches a week, busier during the day than at night.
“We are quiet at night during the week although we are busy at weekends,” explains Eric, adding that this has happened over the last four years.
One reason is the quality of the food – quietly good through and through.
Another is the price: £12 for two courses, £14 for three is reverse highway robbery – half the price of the dinner menu.
A third reason is that people in Bakewell much prefer a lunch to dinner (although that may be down to the town’s demographics).
Eric, aged 45, is one of a number of highly skilful chefs in the area who get overlooked in the search for novelty.
He has done his modern bit but finds customers much prefer classical dishes.
Of course, lunch (four choices at each course) is less complex than dinner but there are still the little nuances of French cooking to enjoy.
Take my starter of warm fish terrine, a firmly textured mousseline of pureed halibut and salmon (and scallops if there are any left over) which is both light and rich with a delicate saffron flavoured sauce of cream and stock.
I call for more crusty French bread to mop up every last drop.
My wife’s asparagus ravioli is the essence of spring with little diagonals of asparagus stalk to give a contrast in texture.
Braised shoulder of lamb is a stew with pearl barley adding its tapioca-like texture to the rich broth. The dish includes potatoes, carrots and broccoli.
Meanwhile my wife is enjoying her fine fillet of well-flavoured, perfectly timed grey mullet on the creamiest of prawn risottos.
If you didn’t want either dish there was coq au vin or a vegetable quiche savoyade.
Desserts are a treat. Eric is rightly famous for his crepes Suzette but you’ll have to go at night for one. At lunchtime it’s with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
We have an espresso crème brulee which is spot on. “I like the way it is almost runny and not hard,” says my wife as she scoops up the dessert under its wafer-thin caramel layer.
I am enjoying an individual apple charlotte, the bread exterior crisp and buttery, the Bramley apple interior juicy and full of flavour. It is studded with little fruit so full of juice we both think they are bilberries but are, in fact, raisins.
Over decent coffee I look around the light, airy dining room with lime coloured furnishings, white walls and beamed ceiling, and reflect on a quietly accomplished, well-nigh faultless meal.
There have been no hysterics on our plate, no gastro tub thumping, just skilfully cooked classic dishes.
I notice it’s the farmers’ market again this Saturday. Take the advice of a foodie fooled by raisins: book now!
We paid £28 for food, £8.10 for two glasses of wine and £3.70 for coffees, totalling £39.90.
Bath Street, Bakewell DE45 1BX.
Telephone: 01629 812 687.
Open Tues-Sat noon-2pm and from 7pm evenings. Sunday lunch on first two Sundays of the month. Licensed. Credit cards. Vegetarian dishes. Disabled toilets and access. Street parking.
My star ratings (out of five):