National Breakfast Awards: The casual approach

National Breakfast Awards: The casual approach

Cocotte is a French farm-to-table chicken rotisserie offering healthy, delicious homemade dishes made from fresh, farm-grown ingredients. Its outlets are located in Notting Hill and Hoxton Square. The concept, which also includes brunch, was created by founder and chef Romain Bourrillon, drawing flavours and inspiration from working for many years in a number of restaurants across France and Belgium.

How important is brunch to Cocotte?
Brunch is becoming increasingly important to Cocotte. Many diners are now looking for all-day dining options and brunch presents a strong sales opportunity. Consumers are increasingly looking for quality over quantity, as well as new experiences, and we’ve found that our brunch menu taps into both of these trends.

Lunch and dinner have performed well from the start, and when we opened for brunch, with the launch of our Hoxton site, we quickly realised we had a really good and simple opportunity to boost sales and broaden our appeal.

Your new brunch is very creative. How did you come up with the dishes?
As with everything we do at Cocotte, we like to create beautiful but simple dishes with a nod to our French heritage. It’s important to have a different offering for different taste buds, so we’ve looked at sweet and savoury dishes as well as hearty meals or pastries. That said, we’ve carefully considered the menu so that it is still distinctly ‘Cocotte’ – not too expansive, beautiful fresh ingredients, with everything freshly made and with flavour at the core.

How has it been going down with customers so far?
We’ve been so pleased with the reaction to our brunch – in particular our bottomless bloody marys have been a real hit. We’re actually looking to extend our offering as the current menu has been so popular. We’re adding chicken and waffles, croque monsieur, croque madame and more, which we can’t wait to unveil.

What’s proved to be the best-selling brunch item?
We don’t have one firm best-seller, the whole menu performs well. Eggs are always a good option, and we’ve found the truffled eggs in particular are a treat that consumers wouldn’t normally enjoy at home. We did a lot of research ahead of launching our brunch to ensure we had a strong menu that answered consumer demand. To ensure we kicked of our brunch with a bang, we ate out a lot, read a lot, looked at the market and at what was doing well that we could learn from.

And what accompanying drinks?
We offer the standard fare of fresh top grade coffees, a variety of teas and juices, and we also offer a range of alcoholic drinks alongside our brunch menu. As well as classic alcoholic drinks such as bellinis and mimosas, we offer a bottomless bloody mary option for £15-per-person. Bloody marys are the perfect brunch accompaniment for someone looking for an alcoholic option and the drink marries perfectly with our dish options. Bottomless brunch is really popular at the moment, but it tends to be Prosecco on offer, so including bloody marys within our menu was a way to have a simple but effective point of difference.

What makes a great brunch experience?
Brunch is a real treat occasion, so every element of the consumer journey needs to be considered and needs to be immaculate. It is so easy to get breakfast at home or to grab a pastry on the run, so a truly great brunch needs to offer something different and something special. Brunch is becoming increasingly popular but is still considered a real treat, above and beyond eating out for lunch or dinner. Service is always really important, at any dining occasion, but the actual menu and the dish presentation should be equally considered.

We’ve found that offering something that a customer can’t easily whip up at home works – such as our egg dishes which have performed really well, as has our bottomless bloody mary offer. These are all items that fall into the ‘treat’ or ‘complex’ category that aren’t easy to replicate at home.

Can you offer any advice to operators on how they might approach or improve their breakfast and brunch offering?
It’s really important to have a carefully considered menu; it needs to strike a balance of variety without overwhelming. If possible, weave a theme through your menu so that customers know what to expect – for us it’s chicken. We’ve found there is generally an increased appetite for brunch, and if done well this can be an easy way to increase sales as it opens up a whole new opportunity.

It is important, however, if tackling brunch to do it properly. Brunch should be an upgrade from what would typically be enjoyed at home and can be as simple as, for example, upgrading sliced bread to a fresh sourdough, or serving pastries you wouldn’t find in a supermarket aisle.

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