After an almost five month absence, l’escargot bleu on Broughton Street in Edinburgh is preparing to open on Thursday 20 August.
Despite being closed during lockdown, chef and owner Fred Berkmiller, along with his wife Betty and children Matilde and Camile, ran the l’escargot bleu at home service - which brought the popular French-Scottish cuisine to Edinburgh residents.
Around 300 dishes per week were sold for the at home service, allowing some furloughed staff to return and help the family.
Speaking of the service and reopening, Fred said: "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.”
Fred explains: “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.
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.