Ever So Sensible, the company headed by former Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) executive Chris Bulaitis, has opened its fourth Le Mistral French-style bistro, writes Paul Charity.

The company has traditionally focused on city-centre sites, with its high-energy Dogma brand in particular. It acquired three existing Le Mistral bistro and wine shop sites — in Nottingham, Sherwood and Wirksworth — last year and the latest opening, in Bakewell, is set to be followed by two more openings this year.

Bulaitis said Le Mistral was based loosely on a similar business model to the south-west café-bar chain Loungers.

The idea is to operate the best-quality bistros in affluent market towns and suburbs. Le Mistral offers French-style fresh food with an emphasis on provenance and a 70-strong wine list. The brand offers 30 of its
70 wines by the glass with a small corkage charge for bottle opening.

Bulaitis said: “Le Mistral has reminded me of how simple food and drink can be and still be top quality when you’re cooking fresh on the premises.

“I think you’ve got to be clearly differentiated in the current market.

“Le Mistral aims to be the best restaurant in its local market — the sort of place that local people are proud to have on their doorstep.”

Meanwhile, Ever So Sensible is about to start work on refurbishing an Everards tenancy. The company has negotiated a bespoke tenancy agreement and Bulaitis plans a concept loosely based on M&B’s Castle concept — a food-based pub with reclaimed furniture.

In February this year, Ever So Sensible opened Bad Ju Ju in Hockley, Nottingham, a conversion of a former unbranded Ever So Sensible freehold pub.