Bistro 197 - a taste of France in Burnley

Helen Mansfield and Sally Fairclough

Helen Mansfield and Sally Fairclough - Credit: Archant

A former truckers’ caff in Burnley has been given a new raison d’etre - bringing a touch of Gallic gastronomy to Burnley. Paul Mackenzie reports

Slow braised lamb shank balloutine, creamy red onion mash, glazed carrots and parsnips with a red cu

Slow braised lamb shank balloutine, creamy red onion mash, glazed carrots and parsnips with a red currant jus - Credit: Archant

A former midwife is delivering the taste of France to the people of Burnley. Sally Fairclough opened Bistro 197 with her sister just a few months ago and they have already been given a host of glowing reviews. Within weeks of opening they were among the top ranked restaurants in the town on the TripAdvisor website and they have rapidly developed a loyal fan-base.

It’s all a far cry from the days when the building on Todmorden Road was Butty Bill’s Trucker’s Caff. Sally, who left the health service ten years ago, said: ‘My sister and I were talking and we agreed there was a gap in the market for somewhere in this area with good food and a good atmosphere. I already owned the building and we saw there was an opportunity to create a really nice eating establishment.

‘We love France and French food and the atmosphere in French restaurants and we wanted to try to bring a little bit of that to Burnley.’

Bistro 197 opened opposite Towneley Park in October with Adam Bartrupe in the kitchen, a two rosette chef who has previously worked at Northcote Manor and the Lowry Hotel.

Sally and her sister Helen Mansfield wait on tables, although Helen teaches in a local primary school teacher and doesn’t work on school nights.

Bistro 197 is open from Wednesday to Sunday and while there is a continental flavour to the dishes, most of the ingredients are Lancashire through and through, with meat from Riley’s butchers in Crawshawbooth and beers from Burnley’s Moorhouse Brewery.

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There are just ten tables and Sally added: ‘Once people come in and sit down, that’s their table for the evening. We didn’t know whether people would want this type of food or be prepared to pay a little more for it but we have been taken by surprise at the response.

‘All the food is made freshly to order and people seem to like looking in to the open kitchen and watching their meals being prepared. My sister and I are front of house so we talk to people and we can see what they like and I think that personal touch really makes a difference. What we’re aiming for is that it’s a relaxing evening out, like going to a friend’s house.

‘We are very passionate about using as much local produce as we can and creating a nice atmosphere.

‘We have learned a lot already and we are now starting to plan for the summer. We’d like to start a cookery school on days when the bistro isn’t open and create an outdoor seating area.’

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