- big budget
- big cities
The Mediterranean Brasserie
Alcohol abuse is dangerous for health. To consume with moderation.
For your health, eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day.
Parilladas, paella, bouillabaisses, scampi fritti, aioli….doesn’t that sound good? If you live in Liverpool, Liege, Frankfort or Amiens? You’ll have to wait until your next summer holiday. Or worse, you’ll have to make do with frozen produce! And all because no one in your area has had the brainwave to open up a restaurant specializing in the wonderful cuisine of Mediterranean.
To think that every single town, no matter how small, can boast at least one Asian restaurant. I’m going to explain how to meet your needs and with a bit of luck someone enterprising, maybe even you, will jump at the bait. To be honest, I myself was thinking of opening this sort of restaurant in the heart of Paris.
There are two possibilities when choosing your location: either in the centre of a town with a population of at least 200,000 people or on the outskirts of such a town. In the latter case, look for proximity to the better-known names of the catering business, preferably those which have more to offer than just fast-food. Then find out if they’re doing a good business since you’ll be dealing with the same clientele.
I’ve include this concept in the large budget category not only because of the high cost of your location. You’re also going to need a good-sized premises with room to seat 120 and a spacious, fully-equipped kitchen installed by professionals and all that costs a lot of money.
The decoration should be subdued, modern and tasteful. No tacky fishing-nets or model fishing-boats on display! Your restaurant will be chic without being over the top. I might suggest a few pretty black and white photographs of the Mediterranean, its islands and its ports.
Comfortable seating and elegantly laid tables are all it takes to get the right atmosphere of a pretty Mediterranean brasserie. Make sure the tables are big enough to accommodate platters of paella, bouillabaisse or seafood.
Now for the menu.
One of advantages of working in this particular niche is that the food is well-known and therefore easily identifiable by the customer. The recipes are simple to follow and are easily mastered. Your cooks won’t need to be Cordon Bleu chefs to manage the local dishes and fishermen’s fare. The large traditional of brasseries usually serve platters of seafood with sauerkraut or game, so summer-time is their off-season. You won’t encounter this problem as your menu won’t depend on seasonal produce.
Let me make some suggestions for your menu. You or your chef may want to add or to change certain dishes. Feel free to use your imagination!
-sardines à l’escabèche
-marinated or deep-fried anchovies
-whelks served with aioli
-grilled lobster tail perfumed with sage
-Carpaccio of sea bass (served with tapenade toast)
-homemade tarama with toast
-insalada caprese (tomatoes with buffalo milk mozzarella)
-salad of Mediterranean vegetables with anchovies and black olives
-tuna fish tartar
-roasted sea bream
-filet of scorpion fish (prepared as you wish)
-Plancha-cooked swordfish with salsa Verde
-seafood papillote served with pistou
-monkfish and chorizo served on a skewer
Rice, Mediterranean vegetables or olive oil flavored mashed potatoes would all accompany the above dishes.
-monkfish bourride à la Sétoise
-aioli royal (use poached monkfish instead of cod, add some whelks, prawns, a few warm sea-snails)
-the traditional Marseillaise
-the Royal (add shellfish)
-seafood paella (meat free)
-arroz negro paella (using cuttle fish and squid ink)
-fiderra paella (replace rice with a vermicelli type pasta)
-spaghetti aux vongole (clams)
-linguini with crab
-penne à la poutargue
-cartoccio (papillote) of spaghetti with lobster
As for desserts, my advice is to stick to the classics and aim for quality.
Now for the wine-list. Again, head south. The wines from Provence should be given pride of place because, rosés apart, you’ll have no trouble finding some superb whites and reds which are relatively unknown. An excellent Bandol white will ideally accompany your menu while the red wines from Provence is my opinion, the most versatile in the world. Don’t neglect the Corsican wines which have some rather interesting whites. Italy will always provide some excellent white wines, careful though with the reds which tend to be pricey.
If you don’t know much about Spanish wine, let me be your guide. Rioja (and even moreso Ribera del Duero) are to be avoided as they won’t complement for menu. I would suggest the red wines of Yecla, Priorat or even Penedes or Valdepeñas which will give your customers great value for money. A Barbadillo from Cadiz is a nice little white wine.
I can’t advice you on publicity and communication as all will depend on your location and even on the region where you set up business. Get advice from the experts, devote ample time and attention to it, the success of your restaurant will depend on it. If you do your utmost to make a go of it I’m sure you’ll be very happy- not everybody gets to open a restaurant selling the sea and the sun! Well-known chefs often open fashionable bistros to complement their main restaurant.
I believe that this concept would adapt particularly well to that sort of venture. I’d really like to see how that would work …maybe one day?