Bistrot de la Gare, run by Sophie Ledoyen and Laurent Samson, is an institution in the French town of Cholet. The restaurant holds the Master Restaurateur title and its chef proposes traditional cuisine that is completely home-made and focused on the origin and freshness of the produce. Quality cuisine and a warm welcome is this establishment’s recipe for success. The D-Vine therefore quite naturally found its place here. In this interview, we invite you to learn about this restaurant in a little more detail.
Can you tell us who you are and how you got here?
We are a couple of restaurateurs and have been owners of Bistrot de la Gare for nine years now. We are originally from Normandy. Before coming to Cholet, we had a varied career. We worked in England (in Bristol), in the US (near Boston), and we also ran a take-away pizza franchise for ten years in Cholet. After these adventures, we decided to come back to our original field by taking over Le Quai des Saveurs whose business was in decline, to turn it into Bistrot de la Gare and restore the reputation of this establishment founded in 1905.
As holders of the Master Restaurateur certification, we offer fresh produce, cooked on site by my teams.
What is your main daily challenge?
Here, we peel, we chop, we emulsify. We poach, we deglaze. We blanche, we roast, we sear, we scale. Basically, we cook. That sums us up and also indirectly describes our main challenge!
As holders of the Master Restaurateur certification, we offer fresh produce, cooked on site by my teams. The customer thereby has the assurance of eating in a restaurant which respects the seasons, and the availability and origin of products. Our challenge is to find the products that we want in accordance with the dish ideas that we come up with. The unprecedented situation that we are currently facing doesn’t make things easier, as we don’t know which products will be available upon re-opening.
How would you describe the cuisine at Bistrot de la Gare?
We offer traditional cuisine which is made with 100% fresh products and with respect for the seasons and producers.
What will be your signature dish for this summer?
We don’t have a signature dish, so to speak, for summer because we will be offering mainly seasonal dishes, light things. Plus, it is difficult to say too much in advance since we don’t know what products will be available.
The D-Vine has allowed us to bring our customers something new and to stand out from other restaurants in Cholet.
Why did you choose the D-Vine for your restaurant? What added-value does it bring?
The D-Vine has allowed us to bring our customers something new and to stand out from other restaurants in Cholet. As with our cuisine, it is our desire to propose a quality offering! It allows us to offer by-the-glass wines that we wouldn’t serve otherwise by the bottle due to their high price.
We have found various solutions to continue operating and delivering our dishes to our customers.
How have you managed this unprecedented situation?
Actually, we have never really closed since lockdown began. We have found various solutions to continue operating and delivering our dishes to our customers. As a result, we introduced a take-away service and since a few days ago, we have also been doing deliveries ourselves. Everything is fresh and cooked at the restaurant, which involves a great deal of work. But we have been the only ones in Cholet to do this since the beginning. In the week, we offer meal trays. These represent about thirty orders a day. At the weekend, we offer set meals. This allows us to achieve a quarter of our normal turnover.
Do you plan to adapt your offering in any way?
We aren’t planning to adapt our offering since we have quite a varied menu for all budgets and a clientele of regulars. The main challenge will be to reassure our guests concerning the sanitary measures that we have taken to ensure the safety of all. I am not necessarily worried about the resumption of business because our customers know how we work. We made the choice to have an open kitchen quite for this reason. It’s up to us to do the necessary in terms of organising the restaurant. We are going to reduce the number of indoor diners from 80 to 58. We will also make use of our terrace if the weather allows. That way we will be able to ensure proper distancing for all.