Believed to be the first of its type in the UK, a brand new £1m flagship steak and lobster restaurant, The Bourgee Luxe Lounge, has just opened in Southend on Sea, boosting the regeneration of the town.
Located in Eastern Esplanade and offering affordable luxury in elegant surroundings, the new restaurant is planned as the first of a chain of 15 to 20 by its four co-owners and directors – James Welling, Celebrity Chef Mark Baumann, Dr Dominiquc Tropeano OBE and Anthony Tropeano.
“We are very proud of the completed project. We have something that we consider to be very special and will be at the forefront of the regeneration of Southend”, James Welling told Premier Hospitality.
The directors chose Southend to open their flagship restaurant, because they consider it an up-and-coming town with a large amount of regeneration investment and set for a bright future.
The new restaurant has been created on the ground floor of an iconic local building which has previously been both a pub and a restaurant. The building was stripped back to shell state and was comprehensively reconfigured, including the installation of new walls, ceilings, and flooring, new electrical systems including a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting, plus two new kitchens (one for food preparation and the other for finishing) – both incorporating all the latest stainless steel equipment.
Main contractors RDD led the refurbishment alongside architects West, working to an initial concept designed by the restaurant’s four directors.
The restaurant, which takes its name from the word ‘bourgeois,’ incorporates a reception area, pre-dinner drinks area, bar, main dining section and two kitchens.
“We saw an opportunity to create a new market for affordable luxury dining which does not exist anywhere else in the country,” said James, before adding: “We have invested a lot of time and effort into creating a very special experience for our customers.”
On entering the venue, diners will encounter a stunning glass foyer, incorporating a water wall. Soft piped music will herald the start of a relaxing experience as they progress into a beautifully lit sumptuous bar designed to be the heart and soul of the restaurant and featuring a huge black topped bar with an illuminated gold front, plus a wine and champagne station displaying the various brands available, together with a selection of spirits to suit all budgets.
Moving on into the dining area, luxurious dark grey carpeting adds a decadent feel, with Tom Dickson designer lighting pendants above each table, complemented by the restaurant’s signature lighting scheme of 165 golf ball sized showlights arranged across the ceiling in perfect rows. The lighting and the music will subtly change to create a different ambience according to the time of day or evening. Luxurious curved linear peony-skin upholstered seating will be featured throughout.
“From the moment diners walk in to the restaurant to the moment they walk out, we want them to have a great experience,” said James.
“We created the concept of this restaurant specialising in steak and lobster because beef is still the most requested menu item in the country and lobster because it was previously regarded as the food of the wealthy and we are making it affordable. We have put a lot of time and effort into providing four key things for our customers. These include a beautiful, relaxing, comfortable venue designed to be appealing to all, and a quality product with the beef being sourced from Northern Spain which is regarded as producing the best in the world, together with fresh UK coastal lobster which is considered to have the best flavour. Also key to the concept is superb, unfussy service and sensible, affordable prices making our top level dining experience available to everyone,” he added.
The history of the Bourgee Restaurants concept began in 2013, when the directors took their passion for unrivalled quality of food and beverage coupled with exceptional service and unbeatable value and identified a gap in the marketplace to provide their customers with all of these components – always set in exquisite surroundings. Having travelled the world to secure the highest quality products and cooking methods available, the directors then set out to combine all of these concepts.
With all the directors’ roots firmly placed in Essex, naturally the county is where the brand began. Product quality, consistency and service always have been – and always will be – at the heart of the business in which highly trained and efficient teams deliver consistently top class products and service.
“With a renowned Great British Master Chef designing all of our menus and a leadership team who have served over a million customers every year for over 30 years – Bourgee has an incredibly diverse and proven track record in both the fine dining and mass catering markets. In short, we think we know exactly what people want, expect and deserve when it comes to food and drink,” said James.
Diners as Bourgee can look forward to a menu including Snap crackle and pop lobster bisque; lobster bites with caramelised onion, garlic butter and grilled cheese and Bourgee lobster – a whole split lobster for two to share, weighing 1.25lb (prepared) served with cheese sauce, shallots and woodland mushrooms and priced at £29.50. Also on offer is Tempura of lobster tail, with mushy pea purée and chilli ginger dipping sauce, served with skinny fries.
For the beef menu, steaks are cooked to perfection in the restaurant’s charcoal Josper oven, delivering a unique taste. These include New York strip off the bone; Rib off the bone; Fillet, and Tomahawk on the bone (for two).
Then come the sweet treats such as mini chocolate doughnuts with cinnamon sugar, vanilla whipped cream and chocolate crème de leche sauce; warm cherry clafoutis with clotted cream and apple tart with caramel and vanilla ice cream.
“This quality of product would be double the price in London,” said James.
He added: “We have had a tremendous response in interest so far from the public.”
A second Bourgee Restaurant is planned to be launched in Billericay in 2015, with rapid expansion of the chain expected to progress from then quite rapidly.
Bourgee aims to be an established and highly recommended UK and International restaurant chain – backed up not only by the people behind it but their new concept in dining, offering quality produce and affordable luxury that can be accessed by all.
Dawson Design Projects
Dawson Design Projects specialise in the design and supply of commercial kitchens bars and restaurants. They are the experts at taking empty shells, undertaking fit out projects and transforming them into amazing open restaurants. In operation since 2009 Dawson Design Projects has worked for a number of high profile clients, undertaking projects at the two Michelin star Midsummer House, The Roka Group, Pied a Terre, and The Dorchester.
Most recently the firm has been involved in Bourgee, meeting Directors Mark and James at the beginning of 2014 to go through their brief. Dawson Design Projects designed the back of house preparation kitchen, the front of house service kitchen, the bar, as well as providing all of the mechanical, ventilation and extraction systems for the kitchens and front of house facilities.
Premier Hospitality caught up with Reg Dawson, Managing Director, to find out what made this project exciting to be involved with:
“We pride ourselves in understanding the client’s requirements, designing what they need within their budget and providing them with the best products on the market.
“Bourgee is a brand which is very different to so many other restaurants out there; Mark and James have a great idea that meant they wanted more from their kitchen than most. The food preparation and cooking techniques required specialise equipment and our involvement from the outset made this achievable. On top of that their ideas for the restaurant and bar were innovative; working with them has been both a challenge and a pleasure.”