Bigger and better future for bistro

CAFE CERES   Chef Jean-Paul Strappazzon and his wife, Caroline at the Cafe Ceres, Hunters Bar.       6 January 2009

CAFE CERES Chef Jean-Paul Strappazzon and his wife, Caroline at the Cafe Ceres, Hunters Bar. 6 January 2009

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Fortune dealt café Ceres a harsh blow when its owners were given notice to quit the Sharrow Vale Road site after 12 years in business.

But Caroline and Jean-Paul Strappazzon are hoping to turn bad luck to good – by re-opening a bigger and better brasserie just up the road.

The couple were devastated when they learned that their landlord was repossessing the premises they had lovingly built up over more than a decade.

But despair turned to hope when the former Dunn’s River restaurant, at Hunters Bar, came on the market.

“We’ve got extremely loyal customers, so the priority was to find somewhere as close as possible, so they can stay with us,” says Caroline.

“We had wanted to expand and open in the evenings, so we’re looking on this as our opportunity.”

Head chef Jean-Paul will be rejoined by his original sous chef Lee Middleton, as well as current sous Luis Catalano.

Between them they will offer the current standard bistro menu – and introduce some of Jean-Paul’s native French Alpine dishes too.

Specialities will include classic sharing food such as raclette, tartiflette and pierrade, a form of hot stone cookery.

“We’re aiming to do more of a brasserie style. In France people wander in and out all day, starting with coffee, then have lunch and maybe come back in the evening too,” says Caroline.

“We’ll also have an alcohol licence, so we’ll be offering a small French wine list including carafes of house wine.”

Ceres closed last week. Refurbishment of the new premises is currently under way and the new brasserie is due to open at the beginning of September.

Lesley Draper