mw-image-header-300x180Oxton’s Fraiche has made the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants list – with a bullet. Marc Wilkinson’s trim little village restaurant has crash-landed into the chart at number six. Quite an achievement after failing to make the chart, at all, last year.

It actually says more about the whimsical and throw-away nature of newspaper best-of lists (don’t get us started on them), than it does for Wilkinson’s Michelin-starred eatery. For, if anything, Fraiche is one of the city’s (no, region’s) most dependable restaurants: such is Wilkinson’s meticulous eye for detail, and his continued adventures in modern cooking.

Compiled by The Sunday Times in association with Harden’s Food Guide, the Food List is based on 80,000 reviews from 9,000 consumers.

But there are clouds on the horizon. Or are they just spun sugar and egg white foam?

A quick look at the businesses for sale website shows that Fraiche is actually on the market.

No!

‘Stunning restaurant for sale, £425,000 or nearest offer’ the advertisement screams.

“This high class restaurant, originally founded by our client some nine years ago has established an outstanding reputation and has been awarded the prestigious 1 star Michelin rating”

“The business has a stunning 3/4 bedroomed apartment above the restaurant perfect for owner’s living space and perhaps a change of direction, and converting the rooms, to bring in additional income.

“We cannot recommend highly enough viewing this outstanding profitable business.”

We waste no time. Not in viewing, but in calling Marc.

“Congratulations!” we say, then, “What are you doing? Why is Fraiche up for sale?”

“Oh, I’m not going anywhere. I’m just testing the market,” he laughs.

We’d like to say we were reassured by Marc’s protestations. But we can also understand how knife-edge running a 12 covers-only Michelin restaurant in Birkenhead really is. Of how every penny Wilkinson must make is, surely, ploughed straight back into the kitchen, not in PR agencies and charity galas.

We ask how business is, Marc says he’s solid between now and Christmas. But, then, he’s also made no secret of the fact that, originally, he’d hoped to open up in Liverpool. But, of course, our city’s business rates were too expensive. Nice one, Liverpool.

That Wilkinson’s succeeded in bringing Michelin to Oxton (ahead of Liverpool, Manchester and anywhere in the Northwest save for Chester, Preston and Clitheroe) is a testament to one man’s talent, dedication and hard work.

“It’s what you put on your plates that counts. We’re in Oxton, so it was always going to be difficult to get noticed, and to get press here,” he says, “but from day one, I made a decision to spend every penny I had on the restaurant. I’ve seen too many bad restaurants employ PR to drum up exposure in the press, only to close down a couple of years later.”

The reason for his success? “I’ve always focussed on what a restaurant needs to do best: the food, and the service. I leave the rest to our customers.”

Let’s hope the market shows Marc a way to keep it that way. And keep it right here.

Fraiche
Oxton Village

  • Bungool

    Business rates are set nationally.

    “How your bill is calculated

    The formula for calculating your bill is set by central government. We work out the bill by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the appropriate multiplier. There are two multipliers for 2013/14.”

    http://liverpool.gov.uk/business/finance-funding-and-grants/business-rates/

    And the rateable value?

    “Your premises will be given a rateable value by the Valuation Office Agency at http://www.voa.gov.uk which your local authority will use to calculate how much you should pay.”

    http://liverpool.gov.uk/business/finance-funding-and-grants/business-rates/rateable-value/

    Therefore nothing to do with Liverpool city council and everything to do with central government. Check facts.

  • Bungool

    Oh, and Fraiche is in Liverpool, a suburban part that doesn’t come under Liverpool city council, although being closer to town than Mossley Hill. Ditto if he’d opened it in Crosby or Roby.

  • david_lloyd

    local govt have the option to discretionarily offer rates relief. And Fraiche isn’t in Liverpool, it’s on the Wirral.

  • Bungool

    You’ve rather missed my point. Is Bootle in Liverpool?

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  • Ramsey Campbell

    No, it’s in Sefton. And as for Fraiche, none of the Wirral is in Liverpool. Are you thinking of Merseyside?

  • Bungool

    Sefton. That’s a vilage with a famous medieval church by Netherton isn’t it? 1974 local authority boundaries aren’t places, Ramsey. Liverpool is a city that extends well outside of its current arbitrary council boundaries and has done for well over a century. Rock Ferry for example is about as old a Liverpool suburb as Everton and in fact as such older than most of the rest of Liverpool within the area with purple bins.

  • Bungool

    Only for charities and in exceptional cases. Hardly appropriate for a commercial restaurant, nice as it might be. Opening the restaurant in the suburbs rather than Liverpool city city will have been cheaper because the rateable value of the premises will be lower. Mr Wilkinson will have experienced the same if he’d taken over a small unit in Wavertree or Waterloo instead. Nothing to do with which council it is.

  • Ramsey Campbell

    Come to think, Wallasey did have a Liverpool postcode for quite a while. But isn’t that arbitrary too? Just to be clear – I’d be happy to say that I still live in Liverpool, having been born there. But quite a few Scousers are hostile to the idea that this side of the river is also Liverpool.

  • Bungool

    I suppose that’s the similarly idiotic inverted snobbery counterpart of the snobbish motivation of some on the Wirral to pretend that their Liverpool suburbs aren’t as much a part of Liverpool as suburbs on the other side of the Mersey. That’s leaving aside parts of Birkenhead and southern Wallasey, which aren’t suburban but part of the innercity dockland that developed around the Port of Liverpool.

    It is what it is whatever foolish folk on either side of the river think it is and that’s OBVIOUSLY, by any sensible standards by which you would judge part of a city as being a part of a city anywhere in the world, part of Liverpool.