Joel Kissin plans September opening for Boulestin restaurant

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant, French cuisine

Experienced restaurateur Joel Kissin is planning to open Boulestin, a restaurant inspired by the famous French chef Marcel Boulestin, in September
Experienced restaurateur Joel Kissin is planning to open Boulestin, a restaurant inspired by the famous French chef Marcel Boulestin, in September
Former Conran Restaurants director Joel Kissin has revealed he is due to start work on the site of his Boulestin restaurant in the next few weeks and is hoping to open the doors to the venue in September.

The experienced restaurateur acquired the former L'Oranger site in St James's last year and is planning to open a 60-cover bistro-style restaurant serving classic French cuisine in a premium setting as well as Café Marcel, a 30-cover café which will offer some of the same dishes alongside a selection of lighter options including salads and sandwiches.

The venue is named after, and inspired by, the writing and philosophy of French chef and restaurateur Marcel Boulestin. The self-confessed anglophile published his first book 'Simple French Cooking for English Homes' in 1923. This was followed by a restaurant in 1925 which was moved to Covent Garden in 1927 when it became an eponymous eatery.

The restaurant remained open and popular for many years before closing in the 1990s. Kissin told BigHospitality he was not looking to recreate the restaurant but instead represent the cooking philosophy of the man behind it.

"I never went to the original restaurant," he explained. "I am not trying to copy or emulate the original; these are different times so stylistically it will certainly be very different.

"Although Boulestin liked food that was not French, I think he did serve mostly French food in the restaurant and it will be the same in that regard here. I think it might be just a little bit simpler for today's tastes."

Classic French

The menu, which remains under wraps, has been designed by Kissin and is expected to be fine-tuned once the restaurateur appoints a head chef - something he is in the process of doing at the moment.

"I am not looking for a chef from any particular nationality," he revealed. "I am looking for a chef who is interested in cooking, eating and trying classic French food."

Kissin spent more than a decade playing a significant role in the development of Sir Terence Conran's restaurant business before his departure in 2001. Making his return to the London dining scene, Kissin said he was trying to create a different restaurant to the ones he had run previously. 

"I am trying to do something quite different. What I did was quite a long time ago. I don't really want to do a very large restaurant again because it is harder for the food to be as good as one would like.

"If you are charging the same price, the customers and critics will compare a 300-cover restaurant to a 50-cover one and they will say the food is better in the 50-cover. That is not an unreasonable thing to do but I just have ambitions to have better food than I would have had in a very large restaurant."

Kissin admitted the former L'Oranger site was slightly smaller than he had originally been looking for so would he consider opening a second restaurant? "I am not planning to do more than one but if this is very successful I imagine it is very likely I will be tempted," he revealed.

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