New steak frites restaurant Gourdans has opened in St Clements in Oxford, and is already doing a roaring trade.
Previously running their business from their imitable French van, which became even more of a success in the pandemic, it seemed the right time for Matt and Tina Jeffery to realise their dream of running their own restaurant.
It’s been a mad rush to get the gleaming new premises in East Oxford open in time, but the couple finally opened the doors last week.
“it was the right time for us – more of a case of now or never”
And with people already flocking to try their trademark steak frites (£14-£18) as well as other delicious sounding offerings, the signs are already good.
“It’s been a crazy time for us,” Tina smiles, “but really exciting and we have already had a busy week with lots of bookings, so fingers crossed.”
A brave move to open during these uncertain times? “Yes it is a gamble but it was the right time for us – more of a case of now or never – and it’s been a great reason to stay positive because we have been planning this for a long time.”
A long time indeed, because ever since Gourdans starting selling steak frites from its van in 2015 at markets, pitches and events all over Oxfordshire, the plan was one day to open a restaurant of their own.
“It’s been a dream of ours, bricks and mortar, even though we were very successful in the mobile catering world. We always knew where we wanted to take this and it gave us something to focus on. Opening our own independent restaurant was a natural progression really,” Tina says.
The results are impressive indeed. Set up in the old Kebab Kid shop, the new Gourdans restaurant location is perfect in such a burgeoning and foodie neighbourhood.
“We looked at lots of different locations but this suited us best,” Tina says looking around their new venue. “And we really like the buzz here.
“There have been lots of hoops to jump through as a new, small business, especially with the current restrictions, but we have overcome them,” she says with a wry smile.
“We cannot make assumptions about what is going to happen in such an uncertain climate, but we believe in what we are doing”
As for her mission, Tina said Gourdans aims to offer a real experience: “Somewhere people can come to enjoy their food and relax. Yes we serve our famous steak frites but we have an interesting menu that caters for everyone and a great wine menu too.
“Our charcuterie plates are already very popular for people to share and while people might come in for steak and frites they have already returned to try the rest of the menu.
“So we are quite versatile really with veggie and fish options too, lots of salads, small plates, plant based food, cheeses, and even a raclette,” and as a plate of courgette fries with aioli sails past I can only look on longingly.
As for the raclette offering – traditional melted Swiss Raclette cheese over smoked potatoes, sauerkraut, house pickles & cornichons with charcuterie options – I’m so there.
So why steak frites? “It was the one thing the whole family liked wherever we went. So when we decided to set up our own business from Begbroke, a little portable steak frites van seemed the perfect idea,” Tina explains.
“The stance we take is to support good quality meat farming and production in the UK”
And what of the current vegan/vegetarian resurgence and the reduction in the amount of meat we eat? “That’s one of the reasons why people come to us, not just because they love steak, but because they want to know where their food comes from and we offer great provenance and have been to all the farms we use, which are Red Tractor certified, as well as using specialised cuts of meat from local farmers.
“The stance we take is to support good quality meat farming and production in the UK.”
Gourdans even bakes all its own bread, so while the menu might be short, the attention to detail is evident.
Neither does Gourdans use gas, their kitchen being run on electricity and a coal oven, (sourced from the Oxford Charcoal Company based in Cassington).
“All in all, we have thought through our menu and our environmental impact in as many ways as possible, including how to manage our waste,” Tina says.
As for Tina and Matt she says they are: “excited but exhausted and running on adrenaline.
“We cannot make assumptions about what is going to happen in such an uncertain climate, but we believe in what we are doing, and doing it to the best of our ability.”
Full review to follow!
Gourdans is at 49 St Clement’s St, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1AG
To book go to https://gourdans.co.uk