When my sister Roxane decided to leave Paris to move to Bristol with her husband Jérôme and their little boy with the plan to open a French restaurant in the city I’ve been calling home for nearly eight years, needless to say I was over the moon. First to be able to see them more regularly and be part of my nephew’s life but also because their new venture would be an exciting one, bringing along some of the culinary delights I’ve missed so much.
Their best friend Ophélie, who they met while working together in a restaurant in the Marais, one of Paris’ trendiest districts, joined them in their adventure.
After months of ups and downs trying to find the right location, they finally found the perfect spot in the former Parlour, an ice-cream favourite for many on Cheltenham Road.
The team decided to call their new establishment La Guinguette, which is a traditional name for 19th century small restaurants and taverns by the Marn River in the suburbs and the surrounds of Paris. People visited them to escape the city and drink in the summer, and on Sundays.
The restaurant is bright with a bar offering a view of the kitchen action which gives La Guinguette a friendly atmosphere.
Ophélie’s grandmother used to own a restaurant in Eastern France, and she was so proud to open her attic to the trio where they found a treasure trove of traditional bar glasses, cups, cards and old photos that have now have a new home.
The team have done an amazing job and have definitely given it a real French touch. They wanted to stay away from French food snootiness though and instead, true to the spirit of old guinguettes and Parisian bistrots, will serve simple and delicious dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.
Eggs mayonnaise, steak frites, pissaladière (a kind of pizza), cheese and cold meats platters, rillettes and other Croque Monsieurs will be washed down with French wines and some Belgian beers. You can also rehydrate with a pint of lovely Brooklyn IPA or Thatchers Gold.
What Dan and I are particularly waiting for is the raclette, which comes from the French verb ‘to scrape’. This traditional dish, originally from Switzerland, involves covering boiled potatoes and charcuterie with melted Raclette cheese, a smooth semi-hard cow cheese. Winter is coming 🙂 and this is definitely a reason to be looking forward to it!
Last Thursday, gathered a few old and new friends of La Guinguette for a simple opening party. Large glasses of punch were served while the lucky few were the first to tuck into pissaladière and cheese.
La Guinguette will open to the public on Tuesday 11 September, and is a lovely new addition to a great area of Bristol where you’ll be able to enjoy a lunch treat, dinner with friends, or cocktails and wine after work.
See you there and bon appétit!
La Guinguette, 243 Cheltenham Road, Bristol.