After an almost 5-month absence, l’escargot bleu on Broughton Street is preparing to open this Thursday for guests to dine on their French-Scottish cuisine.
Far from laying empty during lockdown, the family-run business has been operating a successful take-away service for over three months, serving around 300 dishes a week.
Chef-owner Fred Berkmiller, wife Betty and children Matilde and Camile were initially running their ‘at home’ offering without the help of staff, who were placed on furlough, but the menus proved to be popular, allowing them to bring some staff back.
Fred commented: “In the beginning it was me in the kitchen, Betty taking orders and the children packing orders and taking deliveries. It has been exhausting but we’re getting a lot of repeat customers and some really encouraging feedback.
We are constantly being asked when we are reopening for sit-in guests, and we had to think hard about how best to work it alongside a take-away operation, as well as considering everyone’s safety.
We’ve given this a lot of thought and we’re not only confident that we are able to deliver a safe experience, but that we are able to offer a truly relaxing environment for people to enjoy our food.”
French-born Fred settled in Scotland in 1995 and cites the Scottish larder as a main reason for remaining here.
Provenance, sourcing and sustainability have always driven his cooking and over the years he has formed relationships with small-scale, traditional producers and suppliers the length and breadth of Scotland. He also grows many of the herbs and vegetables used in the restaurant at a walled garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Fred Berkmiller said:“Today, food is more important than ever before and is a top priority for everyone. What we are going through at the moment is something no-one could have anticipated.
At l’escargot bleu we, as a family, have given lots of thought to our food and now, even more than ever, we will concentrate on only welcoming the best ingredients into our kitchen. Ingredients that respect the farmer’s ethos, the grower’s philosophy, the fisherman’s respect for the ocean and the cheesemaker’s traditional recipe.
As we reopen this week, we will be offering a shorter menu that will evolve and change in response to feedback and demand. These shorter menus will place emphasis on quality and the seasons. I will carry on sourcing from around Scotland and France, always purchasing the best ingredients I can find.
Our ethos at the restaurant will continue to evolve and we are looking at ways to guarantee a living wage for all our staff, as well as 6 weeks’ holiday a year.
Our customers are looking for an experience but not at any price – their satisfaction and safety is paramount.”
The restaurant will be open from Thursday to Saturday for the foreseeable future.