PARISIAN cafe culture is on its way to a city neighbourhood with the opening of a new restaurant.
Maison Bleue Le Bistrot will launch in Morningside Road in the second week of April, and aims to bring some of the effortless style of the French capital to the drizzly streets of Edinburgh.
Run by Dean and Layla Gassabi, the new eatery will focus on bistro-style food, with guests encouraged to sit outside and enjoy a coffee or draft beer as the world drifts by.
The move is the first expansion of the Maison Bleue brand, which has been based in the Old Town for 18 years.
Dean, 58, said: “This is a major investment for us and comes just a year after the extensive refurbishment of our Victoria Street restaurant – which is a real sign of our confidence.
“We have been looking around for a considerable time to find the right venue and were keeping a particularly close eye on Morningside. When this opportunity came on the market we knew it was perfect for us.”
And Layla insisted news of the imminent opening had already created a buzz in Morningside.
She said: “The number of people who have been stopping by and asking when we are opening is amazing. They can’t wait for us to launch, which is a great early sign that we have chosen the ideal location.
“While Le Bistrot will be unmistakably part of the Maison Bleue family, it will be different and distinctive in its own right.
“We have space outside for tables and chairs for that real sense of Parisian cafe culture, so we really want to see people making the most of that, particularly as we’ll be serving Saturday and Sunday brunch.
“The menu will be focused on bistro-style food and we’ll be encouraging guests to sit outside and enjoy a cafe noir, croissant, croque monsieur or a small draft beer in the French fashion, biere a la pression.”
The couple said the 45-seat restaurant’s menu would veer toward traditional French food with influences from North African, Creole and Vietnamese cuisine – often with a Scottish twist.
As well as set lunch and weekend brunches, Le Bistrot will offer afternoon tea, a pre-theatre menu, and both an a la carte and set dinner menu.
Dean added: “Morningside and Bruntsfield have developed a great reputation for quality pubs, gastropubs, cafes and restaurants.
“We saw an opportunity for a quirky French bistrot and decided that this is exactly what the neighbourhood needs.
“The added bonus of being the wee sister of Maison Bleue is that we come with 20 years of culinary success behind us.
“We are really looking forward to opening, to extending the reach of Maison Bleue and to becoming a valued member of the Morningside community.”