Cheshire’s La Popote launch new takeaway service

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 May 2020

Joseph Rawlins and Gaelle Radigon

Joseph Rawlins and Gaelle Radigon

Archant

La Popote is all about good food in a welcoming setting and now diners can take away its food to their own homes

here’s understandably quite a lot of pressure when acquiring one of Cheshire’s longest standing and most prestigious restaurants, but new owners Joe Rawlins and Gaëlle Radigon have taken it in their stride.

Since their move last October to La Popote, housed in a lovely renovated farmstead nestled on a Marton country lane, the couple has been committed to continuing its renowned legacy of culinary excellence – but with a difference. They’re ripping up the cookbook on fine dining.

“People say it’s fine dining,” Joe says. “But we like to think of ourselves as being more casual fine dining. “We’ve got tablecloths, we’ve flowers on the table – but if you want to come here in jeans and a t-shirt and you are comfortable, that is the most important thing. We want you to come here and it be an easy ambience, no stress.”

His ethos speaks volumes about his and Gaëlle’s restaurant style: a comfy yet luxurious dining experience that is right at the heart of the appeal of La Popote, whose name translates as a French army canteen or kitchen. Customers don’t just dine here for the great food, but for the excellent front-of-house service (which hasn’t changed since the couple bought the place) and the ever-growing wine list, of which 70 per cent is the French stuff.

Gaelle Radigon and  Joseph RawlinsGaelle Radigon and Joseph Rawlins

The easy-going atmosphere adds to the charm, with the restaurant effectively split into two: customers go from the fireplace in the winter to the garden in the summer. And for the in-between times, there’s the lovely bright feel of the orangery. “The whole package for us is the food, the service and the wine,” says Joe.

At just 15 he trained for a year at Gordon Ramsay’s Tante Marie, before working at The Artichoke in Old Amersham, where he met French woman Gaëlle. He followed her back to Paris in August 2012 and spent seven years learning his trade with chefs and friends in the profession, including his most recent position as head chef at Le Sauvage where he, “learned a lot about wine”.

Plans for the next step are to bring a wine expert to the team to enhance that knowledge to the customer. “It’s silly things, but it’s attention to detail,” Joe says. “Everything here is to do with seasonality and what we can get the best of. We go off as many local ingredients as possible.” All of the menu’s bread comes from Macclesfield’s Flour Water Salt - a Cheshire Life Food and Drink Award winner - the beef is from a butcher in Bollington and where they can, they make sure potatoes are dug out of Cheshire soil.

La Popote BistroLa Popote Bistro

Joe and Gaëlle are a wonderful example of how local foodies are turning their hand to support the community during the Covid-19 outbreak, with takeaway, restaurant-standard meals. It’s also helping keep their own heads above water. Their new service offers a variety of handy help in the kitchen, from the delivery of ‘five fresh meals’ (examples include confit duck leg, braised beef cheek in red wine and salmon fishcake) to three-course ready meals – with a Sunday lunch option – delivered ready to be warmed at home. And making sure customers don’t miss out on the pleasures of their wine list, they’re offering 20 per cent off takeaway wine.

“The takeaway menu changes weekly and has been a really good success, especially the Sunday roast,” Joe says. “There’s food on the restaurant menu that has quite classic vegetables, but people don’t know them. We had purple carrots and people were saying: ‘What are they? How do you dye your carrots?’ You come here for something different and to discover new things – flavours that you didn’t know worked together or a new wine you haven’t had before.”

Gaëlle agrees, but is keen to keep some distance between the restaurant and their French connections. “Everyone around here wants chips and green beans, but it’s not the season,” she says. “We want to come up with something different that people can cook at home or simply try something new. And a French reputation is a good business. But here it’s about modern cooking. I am French, so French cuisine and a French reputation is a bit much.” Feedback from regular customers suggests they dine again and again at La Popote because they know each time they do, they will try something different.

Joe and Gaëlle change the lunch menu every week, and the à la carte every six to eight weeks. But it’s a team effort. Joe says: “We sit down and try the food together, one so front of house know what they’re serving, but also just because we’ve done a plate, it doesn’t mean it’s finished. Everyone brings their ideas. We are not bothered about accolades – the most important thing is that people come here and have a good time; they enjoy the food, the wine and the service.”

It was Joe’s connection to the area that encouraged the couple’s move back from France. Originally from Wilmslow, owning a restaurant near to his hometown was always something he fancied. “We wanted a proper couple-run restaurant here,” says Joe. “In Paris there is so much competition. What we are doing is different from what other places are doing around here. There’s always the two of us front of house because we live here. You get to know clients and you call them by their first name; treat them with respect, and they’ll do the same with you. We’re a business, but we’re a family-run business trying something different.”

To place a takeaway order, call 01260 224 785 or email info@la-popote.co.uk. For updates, follow them on Instagram @lapopoteuk

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