It’s endured both a fire and a flood, yet Home is thriving, having won Restaurant of the Year at the 2023 Dumfries & Galloway Life Awards. Carol Hogarth speaks to its founders

‘My granny, who was from farming stock, said ‘if you start with good ingredients, the end product will always be tasty,’” says Louisa Francis of Home restaurant in Dumfries.

And that’s the philosophy Louisa and husband Thomas, Home’s chef, have followed faithfully, with great success, since launching their restaurant in November 2016.

Describing itself as ‘a small family restaurant, specialising in local produce and tasty food’, Home’s menu is driven by its quality, local suppliers, as Thomas explains: “Because we are quite a small restaurant, we can phone our suppliers and ask what they’ve got that’s interesting on any given week. We then write our menu to what our suppliers can get hold of. It’s constantly changing.”

Great British Life: Thomas Francis cooking Mozzeralla StarterThomas Francis cooking Mozzeralla Starter (Image: Allan Devlin)

Having been named Restaurant of the Year at the 2023 Dumfries & Galloway Life Awards and winning high praise from renowned Guardian food critic Grace Dent, who paid a visit in May, last year was a great year for Home, despite a nightmarish start.

New Year’s Eve flooding on the Whitesands deluged the restaurant, ruining ovens, fridges, underfloor heating, heat pumps… “We lost so much,” says Thomas. “If it wasn’t for being in a small town with people wanting to help, I don’t think we’d have recovered.”

After a huge effort from the couple, and their army of friends and family, Home was up and running again by mid-February: “It was a real community effort. We are so lucky to still be here.”

Great British Life: Louisa Francis at Home restaurant, DumfriesLouisa Francis at Home restaurant, Dumfries (Image: Allan Devlin)

Home’s first ‘home’, from 2016 to 2019, was above the Coach & Horses Inn, also on the Whitesands, but a devastating fire there meant Thomas and Louisa had to urgently relocate. Although they already owned the former A&P Simpsons grain store, where they are now, it was just a shell at that time so they rented premises at Rugman’s Hall until opening at the grain store in summer 2022.

Thomas and Louisa’s partnership, both personal and professional, began at another Dumfries restaurant, Benvenuto.

Thomas had moved up from Sheffield to Castle Douglas as a teenager, first working at The Scottish Pantry as a dishwasher, while studying catering at Dumfries & Galloway College.

In his next job, at Benvenuto, he was inspired and mentored by chef Fabrizio: “Fabrizio was mesmerising, so musical in the way he moved around the kitchen. I constantly asked him questions and fell in love with the craft.”

Great British Life: Thomas and Louisa Francis at Home restaurant, DumfriesThomas and Louisa Francis at Home restaurant, Dumfries (Image: Allan Devlin)

When Fabrizio sadly died of cancer in 2004, Thomas took on the running of Benvenuto’s kitchen. However, Louisa, who’d also been working there, decided to open her own restaurant, Fabrizio’s in Queensberry Street, employing Thomas as the chef.

In 2008, Fabrizio’s lost its rented premises and Louisa decided to go travelling, asking Thomas if he’d like to come along.

The couple’s adventures, always with a culinary flavour, included working on an organic vegetable farm in Devon where they lived in a tent for eight months, catering a private chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, working as a private chef couple in Monaco and Nice and working a wine harvest in St Émilion, France – described by Louisa as “the most back breaking work we’ve ever done”.

“It was all part of figuring out where it all comes from,” says Thomas. “And, in France and Switzerland, we got to play with amazing ingredients we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford.”

With their first child Quincy on the way, Thomas and Louisa moved back to Dumfries in 2014 to be near family and Thomas took a job helping set up Neuro’s at the Crichton.

“That was an amazing experience,” he says. “I’d learned a lot about cooking by then but didn’t know much about the business side of things, which that job taught me.” However, long hours away from Louisa and Quincy took its toll: “We had to find a way of spending more time together,” he says.

Great British Life: Fresh ingredients at the Home restaurant, DumfriesFresh ingredients at the Home restaurant, Dumfries (Image: Allan Devlin)

So, the couple decided to launch their own joint enterprise: “We both decided on the same name,” says Louisa. “Our house is always so busy and we’re always feeding people. We said if we weren’t doing it for paying customers we’d be doing it anyway, so our restaurant always felt like home.”

Now, with Quincy and daughter Beatrix, who was born in 2017, already enjoying helping prep in the restaurant kitchen, Thomas and Louisa seem to have found a good balance, where work really is all about family and Home.

Home is currently open three nights a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and there are plans to re-introduce lunches in the spring. For all enquiries text or call 07896 355074


Great British Life: Mozzarella StarterMozzarella Starter (Image: Allan Devlin)

Mozzarella Starter recipe


• 4 balls of Kedar Mozzarella from Mouswald

• 12 dates

• 75ml Armagnac

• 2 heads fennel from Sage Against The Machine, Moniaive

• Butter

• Lemon zest

• Brown sugar

• 150g chard from Sage Against The Machine, Moniaive

• Sumac

• Cumin

• Lemon juice

• Olive oil

• Chilli oil

• Salt

• Coriander shoot from Lisa at Beans’ Greens, Moniaive


1. Place dates and Armagnac into saucepan, cover and warm over low heat to allow the dates to soften and marinate in the Armagnac.

2. Leave uncovered for an hour for the alcohol to evaporate.

3. Slice fennel into eighths, put on a baking tray with knobs of butter, lemon zest and a pinch of brown sugar and salt. Cover with foil and roast at 160c for 20 minutes, then set aside.

4. In a medium hot frying pan, add your dates, fennel and chard, caramelise slightly and set aside.


Rip mozzarella, divide the mix from the pan between the four mozzarella balls, add a pinch of sumac, a pinch of cumin, a drizzle of chilli oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and some flake salt and coriander shoots to finish


Great British Life: Steak TartarSteak Tartar (Image: Allan Devlin)

Steak tartar recipe


• 300g Roberthill farm rump cap/Picanha or similar from your local butcher

• 40g capers

• 55g cornichon

• Flake salt to taste

• Black pepper to taste

• 40g olive oil

• 1/2 a lemon, juiced

• Flat leaf parsley, big pinch

• Ethical Dairy Fleet Valley blue cheese

• 8 slices of crusty bread

• Butter for frying

• 4 eggs from Nith Valley Eggs, Closeburn

• Butter for frying

• Pea shoots from Lisa at Beans’ Greens, Moniaive


1. Finely chop capers and cornichon.

2. Add parsley, olive oil, lemon juice salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Finely dice beef into a 6mm dice using the sharp side of a knife.

4. Put in a steel bowl and add your other ingredients.

5. Slice your bread thinly and add a slice of blue cheese inside each sandwich.

6. Butter the outside of both slices of each sandwich.

7. Add knob of butter into your frying pan, turn on at a medium heat and fry your sandwich on both sides until golden brown.

8. Place on serving plate to rest whilst frying your eggs.

9. Fry four eggs with a knob of butter on a medium heat until the white is cooked and the yolk still runny.

10. To serve, cut your crusts off each sandwich and plate up.

11. Use a cutter to cut your fried eggs into a nice shape.

12. Plate each sandwich, place some beef onto your sandwiches and top with egg.