The Bold Carvery and Bar at the Bold Hotel in Southport
- Credit: not Archant
A Southport hotel is being given a make-over to create a stylish family-oriented restaurant
You don't build a thriving hospitality business without being bold in your decision making, and entrepreneur Andrew Mikhail is doing that again at the Bold Hotel in Southport.
The foursquare 19th century building sits in a prime location on elegant Lord Street, at the heart of the town. It became part of Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group's portfolio in 2015, joining properties like the three Punch Tarmey's in Liverpool, St Helens and Southport; The Eccleston Arms in St Helens, where the business began; and the Lord Street Hotel in Southport.
'We spent £1.5 million refurbishing and renovating the Bold Hotel before it reopened in 2016,' he says. 'It's been very successful as a hotel, bar and restaurant but my wife Vicky and I think Southport needs something different here.'
Every Sunday they go out as a family for a traditional roast with all the trimmings. 'One day it struck me - we love that experience and do it often and other families do too. So why are we going to restaurants owned by someone else for this?'
Realising Southport had nothing quite like his vision of a high end, family-oriented carvery, that was the location selected for the venture.
The work, which started in January, will be completed in the early part of this year. 'It's a tight schedule, but we've never been late on a project yet,' says Andrew. The state-of-the-art Red Rum function suite at the rear of the building remains, as do the 23 en-suite bedrooms, but the rest of the ground floor is being radically remodelled from intimate art deco extravagance to an airy, cosy country inn ambiance, with lots of wood and warm colours in the design.
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Head chef Lee Whittaker says: 'I'm really excited about this. It's going to be very upscale, everything cooked from fresh, using a lot of great local meat and produce, three meats during the week, four at the weekend, plus a range of other dishes on the set menu.
And there'll be daily specials where we can be really creative and make sure every time you come back there's something new and different.'
The richly flavoured soups, lasagne and curry for which he has gained a reputation will still feature, along with classic family favourites like fish and chips, steaks and burgers. Though meat is clearly the core offering, there'll be something for everyone on the menu. 'We pride ourselves in catering for any dietary requirements where possible,' Lee adds. 'We ensure nobody is left out, so our menus include vegetarian, vegan and gluten free choices.'
There's also a kids' menu and, building on one of the big successes of the hotel's previous incarnation, there's a cocktail menu too. And the creative team at the Bold is working on real ale and wine matches for some of the classic dishes at the heart of their offer - a tempting and well-kept range of real ales is another of the trump cards Andrew is playing at the Bold.
Lee and his team of eight will be kept busy, still serving the celebrated breakfast that feeds hotel guests, shoppers, and visitors until 11am; catering for the weddings, christenings and other events in the 180-cover function room; and now cooking for the classy carvery where 200 can be accommodated.
Having worked in a carvery elsewhere earlier in his career Lee knows what he wants to do, and to avoid. 'The carvery facility itself is amazing, beautifully designed, there's absolutely nothing canteen-style about it - we'll have chef service there, and the flow of food from the kitchen means diners will enjoy properly hot food of the highest quality.'
Part of the joy of a carvery - a very good carvery - is that not only do diners relish the excellent food, but they get pleasantly replete and that can bring a dining dilemma. 'Everyone loves a dessert,' Lee says. 'It's a shame to miss out if you're full, so we've come up with "Cake-away" - a chilled stand holding delicious gateaux, from which if you fancy something sweet for later you can pick a slice and have it boxed up by our staff.'
Andrew's business philosophy is to do things properly, no corners cut, no expense spared; it's an approach that has seen his group grow from one pub a few years ago to nine differing venues today, and that's set to make something new and special in Southport.
As he says: 'The Bold Carvery and Bar will be "a cut above".' He couldn't resist, and it's hard to see locals and visitors to Southport alike will either.