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New French bistro to open next week serving family recipes

PUBLISHED: 13:24 13 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:06 13 January 2020

Gemma Aubrit-Layfield and Thomas Aubrit are opening a new French bistro in the Norwich lanes. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Gemma Aubrit-Layfield and Thomas Aubrit are opening a new French bistro in the Norwich lanes. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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A new French bistro is set to open in the Norwich Lanes next week, with its owners saying it will focus on authentic, simple dishes.

First look inside L'hexagone, the new French bistro in the Norwich lanes. Picture: Ella WilkinsonFirst look inside L'hexagone, the new French bistro in the Norwich lanes. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Thomas Aubrit and Gemma Aubrit-Layfield hope to open L'Hexagone - the nickname of France for French people, due to its shape - on Lower Goat Lane, in the former Norwich Gift Emporium home, early next week.

The couple, who have two children, say they will bring family French food to the bistro, including Mr Aubrit's grandmother's French onion soup recipe, beef bourguignon, French roast chicken and steak frites.

Mrs Aubrit-Layfield, 35, said the pair met at a restaurant in France where her now-husband worked, and began a long-distance relationship which eventually saw Mr Aubrit move to England in 2017.

A sneak preview inside new French bistro L'hexagone. Picture: Ella WilkinsonA sneak preview inside new French bistro L'hexagone. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"It was never a case of if he opened his own restaurant, it was when," she said. "I have had jobs in hospitality and when you see that passion in someone you want to be involved."

Cooking runs in the family for chef Mr Aubrit - his mother was a cook and his uncle a butcher, and that family history has influenced his menu.

"It's what I love," he said, "it's in my blood. I remember being with my grandmother and her cooking the onion soup and the smell of that.

Gemma Aubrit-Layfield and Thomas Aubrit are opening a new French bistro in the lanes. Picture: Ella WilkinsonGemma Aubrit-Layfield and Thomas Aubrit are opening a new French bistro in the lanes. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"I've had people ask when I'm going to open somewhere, but we wanted to find the right place and not rush it, and Norwich is lovely."

The couple, who have sons Leo, nine, and Louis, five, said they'd been given a warm welcome from fellow traders in the city, and said the Lanes was a "lovely thing to be a part of".

They said they had also been supported along the way by enterprise agency Nwes, which offered support on their business plan.

Gemma Aubrit-Layfield and Thomas Aubrit will open L'Hexagone next week. Picture: Ella WilkinsonGemma Aubrit-Layfield and Thomas Aubrit will open L'Hexagone next week. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

While their opening times are yet to be fully pinned down, the pair - who will initially run and staff the restaurant on their own - will serve a breakfast menu from 9am, which will be made up of pastries and croque monsieur and madame sandwiches.

A lunchtime bistro menu will follow, and later on in the week they will open in the evening too, before closing on Sundays.


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