A sausage, bean and cheese melt isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of haute cuisine…
Clearly you need to think more outside the box. How about if you take that sausage, bean and cheese melt, cut it in half, top it with smoked ham, poached Cacklebean eggs, and a hollandaise sauce. Hey presto, you’ve got yourself a Greggs benedict.
Zut alors! Is that what passes for Gallic-inspired cooking these days?
At Bistro Greggs it does. Let’s cut to the chase, this is by no means a traditional bistro. Anyone craving a crisp duck confit or a rich bouillabaisse are going to be sorely disappointed. However, for fans of what is one of the UK’s biggest bakery chains, it’s an opportunity to sample some tasty pastries in a fun new environment.
Ok, I’m game. Tell us more
Running throughout December at fancy, family-owned department store Fenwick in Newcastle’s city centre, Bistro Greggs bills itself as ‘a fine dining experience’. Housed on Fenwick’s first floor, the restaurant space takes its cue from the bistros Saint-Germain-de-Pres in Paris. We’re talking dishes served under silver cloches; waiters dressed in traditional white shirts and ties; velvet banquette seating; and marble countertops.
Very fancy. What’s on the menu?
Developed by Fenwick executive head chef Mark Reid in collaboration with Greggs, the menu features classic Greggs pastries complemented with Gallic-inspired sides. For example, the Greggs festive bake will be served with duck-fat roasties, smoked pancetta, chestnuts and sprouts (see below); while the steak bake comes with truffle dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and almonds. The vegan sausage roll is also getting some love, being served here with a chicory and pear salad, and pickled walnut ketchup. Meanwhile, desserts include an earl grey créme brûlée paired with a slice of Greggs Christmas cake.
How about drinks?
Drinks will include wines from Fenwick’s Food Hall, and a ‘signature’ cocktail created by the team at Newcastle cocktail bar Mother Mercy. Called The Pink Jammie Fizz, the prosecco-based drink is inspired by the Greggs pink jammie doughnut and features flavours of raspberry and apple. There’s also a selection of beers, ciders and soft drinks as well as tea and coffee.
It sounds fun enough, but what’s the actual point behind this?
On the one hand it’s just a good way of drumming up some extra publicity in the run up to Christmas, in a similar vein to the bottomless pigs in blankets restaurant Aldi is running in London’s Camden over the coming weeks. And fair play to Greggs for choosing its hometown of Newcastle as the place to host the pop-up, given most brands almost exclusively tend to concentrate on the capital when it comes to stunts like this. From a business point of view, though, Bistro Greggs is reflective of the group’s efforts to tap into the evening/dinner market (Bistro Greggs is open until 8pm). Announcing its third quarter results back in October, Greggs reported that like-for-like sales in company-managed shops had risen by 14.2%, which was attributed to the ongoing development of its evening trade, as well as its digital channels and loyalty programme through the Greggs App. Who knows, should Bistro Greggs prove to be a huge success, perhaps we could see a more permanent iteration of it in the future.