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Elliott Lidstone leaves the Empress to open new venture

03 August 2016 by

Elliott Lidstone, former chef at London's Empress bar and kitchen in E9, has announced the opening of his first restaurant at Wapping Wharf, a new community on Bristol's harbour.

Box-E Bristol will open in the Cargo retail space, Bristol's first retail yard made of converted shipping containers, before the end of the year. The 14-cover restaurant will span two shipping container units, which will overlook the River Avon.

Box-E Bristol will be intimate and relaxed, with an open kitchen. Lidstone's wife, Tessa, will work in the restaurant at front of house.

Lidstone told The Caterer: "We're hoping to create a place where we'd enjoy going - somewhere where you can pop to for a business lunch, or mid-week dinner if you're passing on your way home from work, but also somewhere where you could easily come for a special meal out and always leave happy. That's the dream anyway!"

The style of cooking at Box-E will be refined modern British, with a regularly changing menu using seasonal and local ingredients. A couple of Lidstone's dishes from the Empress will also appear on the menu.

He said: "I love cooking fish and will hopefully open in time to get some lovely sea trout on the menu which I can cure and serve with charred cucumber and ras el hanout. I've got an idea for a courgette, crab and buttermilk starter, and I think I have to bring my pigs' ears snack to the party. I'm really excited to find new local suppliers to work with, and to be that much closer to the Devon and Cornish coast for fish. My father-in-law has promised me some allotment goodies too."

"It was sad to leave the Empress" he said, "It's where I really developed my own style of cooking and achieved rosettes and a Bib of my own, but it's a nice length of time to be in one place and I'm ready for my next challenge.

"My wife and I have always joked about opening our own restaurant, but then we saw a few sites in Bristol that made us consider it as a reality. We have a young family and my wife's from Bristol so it's a natural move for us and the food scene is really exploding there so it's exciting to be part of that."

Property development company, Umberslade, has responsibility for and owns most of Wapping Wharf. It develops and manages properties across residential, commercial, retail and industrial sectors in the UK and internationally.

Approved in 2006, Wapping Wharf put forward the plan for the creation of 600 new homes and shops. The Cargo units measure 8ft x 20ft, have glass fronts and outside terraces. Divided in to two floors, the lower level is divided into five single units and three double units, while the top level houses a large unit made up of five containers, and a double.

None of the other outlets have been unveiled for the Cargo development, but in the rest of the Wapping Wharf area, independent coffee shop & bakery Mokoko; organic grocery store Better Food; handmade sourdough restaurant Pizzarova; Little Victories coffee and crafts store; craft beer brewer Wild Beer Co's first bar and a Bertha's Pizza have all signed leases and are due to open imminently.

Stuart Hatton, director at Umberslade, said: "It is an exciting time for Wapping Wharf now that people have moved into their new homes and we have started to announce the names of the retailers that will join this emerging community.

"Cargo would see the creation of an additional cluster of retailers at Wapping Wharf, fitting in nicely with the independent, ‘foodie' feel we are envisaging for this new Bristol quarter. The type of retailer we expect to see taking space at Cargo might be anything from a pop-up smoothie seller to a street food retailer - and everything in between - and we think this will be an excellent addition to the city's vibrant food and drink scene."

Wild Beer Co latest operator to join Bristol's new Wapping Wharf development >>

Chef Revelations: Elliott Lidstone, head chef, the Empress, Victoria Park, London >>

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