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Le Beaujolais: At the heart of a restaurant revolution in Cirencester

PUBLISHED: 11:36 12 September 2013 | UPDATED: 11:40 12 September 2013

Eric Lepine, chef and joint owner of Le Beaujolais, Cirencester

Eric Lepine, chef and joint owner of Le Beaujolais, Cirencester

Archant

The French Revolution that led to the musical ‘Les Miserables’ could be said to be at the heart of Cirencester restaurant Le Beaujolais.

Eric Lepine, chef and joint owner of Le Beaujolais, CirencesterEric Lepine, chef and joint owner of Le Beaujolais, Cirencester

For the last two years the classic, French-style brasserie has been evolving into an amazing dining experience with special evenings, from fun with Tweedy the Clown to a hint of ‘Les Mis’ and a club with close to 200 members who love to eat, sleep, talk and learn about the regions of France and their specialities.

There isn’t another classically French restaurant in the town; with menus created by chef Eric Lepine and a warm front-of-house welcome from business partner Kiean Glynn, Le Beaujolais today attracts every generation.

The Castle Street restaurant set out to fight the recession with special events, but now they are part and parcel of a very special experience with a background steeped in the cultures of many countries.

Kiean was a Disney manager who eventually ran a hotel in the Alps and employed Eric as head chef. Their headline act in the Alps came when Kiean was asked if could create a special meal where a guest could propose to his girlfriend. So, he and Eric secretly set the table on the top of a mountain, and poured champagne and served dinner after the prospective bride said “yes”!

They later worked together in outside caterers Relish before Eric and Kiean bought what is today Le Beaujolais, with its seating for 80 on two floors, special business and family celebrations, fun nights and music, to bring together guests for special meals to remember.

Like many businesses, Le Beaujolais has looked for ‘weapons’ to fight off the recession, and now they offer vouchers which reduce food and drinks bills by 10% and special £9.99 lunches for senior citizens Tuesdays to Fridays every week.

“It is tough, but sitting and waiting for things to get better didn’t help anyone,” says Eric. “We always strive to be the best, offering something new, and give our customers the benefit of some really creative thinking.”

For Kiean and Eric, this is not just about commerciality, for Le Beaujolais has helped two or three charities in the past two years, especially Acorns, the special centre for Gloucestershire children with life-threatening illnesses.

“We want to be the best restaurant for food for the whole family, and to help where possible some of the charities that do marvellous work across the country,” say Kiean. “As Eric says, it is certainly not just about commerciality.”

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Le Beaujolais, 37 Castle St, Cirencester GL7 1QD, tel: 01285 644440

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Le Beaujolais Recipe of the Month from Eric Lepine, head chef of Le Beaujolais

September 2013

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CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

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Ingredients:

• 200ml of full-fat milk

• 200ml of double cream

• 2-3 drops vanilla essence

• 4 medium-size free-range eggs

• 200g caster sugar

• 1 tbsp of wheat-free flour

• 1 tbsp of ground almonds

• 30g butter

• 500g cherries, cut in half, stones removed

• 30g flaked almonds

• 30g of caster sugar

• Cream to serve

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Preparation method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Pour the milk, cream and vanilla into a pan and boil for a minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Tip the eggs and sugar into a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Fold the flour and the ground almonds into the mixture.

4. Pour the milk and cream onto the egg and sugar mixture, whisking lightly.

5. Brush butter into an ovenproof dish, then pour the batter into the dish and scatter the cherries on top then the flaked almonds.

6. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden-brown and set but still light and soft inside.

7. Dust with the 30g caster sugar and serve warm with cream.

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