French restaurant in Edinburgh to give out free food for 25th birthday

Steak tops the menu at popular Chez Jules as the traditional French restaurant thanks customers with an offer of free meals all day on June 4.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 7:58 pm
Chez Jules are having a free food day in June, L-R Aida Quiros, Pierre Levicky and Kasia Panis

The Free Food Day, running from 12 noon until late, will let pre-booked diners sample the Hanover Street wares, without paying a penny.

Famed for its reasonable prices and traditional French fare, owner Pierre Levicky has gone one step further by dishing out his favourites for free.

“We’ll be open until 11pm or maybe even earlier. Last year the cupboards were empty by 10.20pm.

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“Diners will get the same welcome salad and olives and bread, for free as usual, and the option of three different main courses. If you want anything else, pudding or wine, you just pay for it but if you want nothing else but to come in, sit down, eat a main meal for free then be our guest! We want to say thank you to everybody for being so loyal over the years.”

Menu choices include chargrilled skirt steak and chips, seabass and coq au vin. Last year the gratis stunt resulted in 617 meals being dished out. “We’re trying to beat our record from last year,” laughed Pierre.

“It is to celebrate our sort-of 25-year anniversary.

“I first opened Chez Jules in 1994, and although I left for a bit we’re still celebrating, call me crazy.”

Pierre, the long-serving restaurateur, is the founder of the Pierre Victoire brand, the last of which was sold off in 2015.

The Pierre Victoire chain of eateries, which launched in the Capital in the 1980s, grew from just one base in Victoria Street to more than 140 across the UK and beyond, trading under its distinctive green sign and offering an array of mouth-watering bistro food at an affordable price. But the rapid expansion prompted financial difficulties and the firm went into receivership in 1998. Pierre and his family left Edinburgh for France and after a spell working in restaurants on the continent, Mr Levicky returned to the city to open restaurants Chez Jules and Chez Pierre. He eventually turned the latter, on Eyre Place, into the first Pierre Victoire outlet for more than a decade in 2010.

Five years later he sold Chez Pierre to city chef Matthew Korecki where in 2016, it transformed into its current incantation New Chapter. But Chez Jules continues on and is an affordable city centre favourite, where Pierre sticks to a well-worn formula based on the inspiration for all his restaurants.

The story, as told by Pierre, goes: “Once upon a time in a small hamlet in the heart of France, an old farmer was raising his cows tenderly.

“He loved them, he spoke to them, spoiled them and then ...when the day came, the cow was gently killed and carefully cut up.

“After a few days and a few weeks, Jules was eager for the farmers in the area to taste his tender and juicy steaks, all washed down with a lot of red wine!

“Today the same know-how is used at Chez Jules.”

The cheerful restaurant with dripping candles in wine bottles, giant blackboards and red-and-white check tablecloths gives the basement dining room a trademark Gallic feel.