The vegetarian restaurant group Bistro 1847 is to expand following the recent opening of its two latest sites in Bristol and Brighton.
Founder and owner Damien Davenport confirmed to The Caterer that he hoped to open up to 10 sites within the next 18 months, and would begin looking for new locations once the current group of four sites had been "consolidated".
It was considering opening in central London, former Londoner Davenport said, as well as looking at other major towns across the UK, including Liverpool and Bath. He had also been close to opening in Edinburgh earlier this year, but the deal fell through thanks to a planning issue. The group is still considering Edinburgh as a new location.
Davenport, who has a background in hotel and restaurant operations, including as deputy general manager at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, opened the first Bistro 1847 in Manchester in 2009 and then followed it with the Birmingham site in 2013.
Bristol opened in October 2015, and Brighton began trading on 13 November 2015.
The winter menu offers options such as roasted butternut squash with whipped feta and pumpkin seeds; caramelised cauliflower with harissa yogurt; "fish" and chips, with ginger ale battered halloumi cheese with triple-cooked chips; leek and bulgur-stuffed mushrooms with braised red cabbage; and spicy puy lentil sausage, with turnip and sage mash and red onion gravy.
Each site also offers regular tasting menus featuring local ingredients and region-specific produce. The new spring menu, set to be introduced after Easter, will be much more along the lines of Yotam Ottolenghi-inspired salad dishes, said Davenport.
Commenting on his plans to expand, Davenport explained that the brand was not just aimed at vegetarians, but was designed to appeal to meat-eaters as well, in response to the recent trend for what he called "dirty, heart-attack food".
He said: "That dirty junk food scene has been done to death for the last few years. There really is a movement now towards health, and people are a lot more conscious of it. When you look at food movements in New York, there are a lot of vegetarian and plant-based vendors, which are moving into London now. I think the trend will move across the rest of the UK within the next five years."
He added: "A massive chunk of our custom isn't vegetarian. We've got a reputation for good food, and the fact that it's vegetarian is a side thing. We try to do something a bit different, change our menus regularly and use a lot of very local suppliers."