Shekha heads off to Brasserie Blanc to sample a menu inspired by Raymond Blanc’s world travels…
City workers – the Threadneedle branch specifically, Francophiles looking for decently priced French food, people on first dates, couples post-first date, working lunchers, late diners, solo diners, Raymond Blanc fans
In a Word
There is always going to be a sense of anonymity with casual dining establishments located in relatively new-build skyscrapers in the City of London. Nevertheless, Brasserie Blanc is smart and sleek with statement décor, such as a giant tree etching on one wall, despite the neutral grey tones and brass fittings. The open kitchen at the far end of the restaurant and wide windows looking out onto the street give a bit of drama and spectacle, while the mezzanine floor layout also gives the eyes somewhere to wander.
The restaurant is middling to full on a Tuesday evening with the gentle hum of conversation. Mostly city workers, in varying sized parties, from single diners to raucous groups a little later on, comprise the clientele. It seems a popular spot and a solid addition to the Brasserie Blanc brand.
We started with bread and marinated olives which are both delicious. The light, pillowy bread and salted butter almost fills us up – but we find room for a luxuriously velvety Mediterranean fish soup which is a new addition to the menu. Despite its vivid red colour, there is nothing brash about the flavour of the broth which is deep and comforting, basically a bisque, aromatic with shellfish. The croutons and Gruyere add a savoury note which complements the seafood flavours.
A buttery, bubbling bath of escargot is devilishly addictive. Each bite is a hit of heady garlic, pearlescent flecks of onion and slurps of melted butter. A little heavy-handed on the salt but the golden juices, lifted with herbs, work perfectly as a foil to the bread which comes with the dish.
A cod with black squid ink risotto is a mixed bag, another new dish for the spring menu. The glossy rice is perfectly cooked and texturally solid but it is let down by a miserably overcooked fish which has a refreshing summery aroma of lemon but otherwise lacks flavour. Accompanying chilli squid is well executed but with none of the heat that is promised.
A slow cooked pork shoulder and leg with hispi cabbage and gooseberry compote is much better. The rolls of pork are swimming in lush, flavourful pan juices, while springy gooseberries cut through the fatty meat with their sharpness. Sautéed potatoes are fluffy and herby and the stack of cabbage provides green balance to the rich dish.
Alas after such decadent food, we are too full for dessert, (our roquette with parmesan lies almost woefully untouched) although the idea of pistachio soufflé and green apple sorbet taunts us for a while after.
Brasserie Blanc has a reputation for doing solid, reasonably priced, French food well and, on the whole, this is true. The new menu which attempted to deviate from this, inspired by Raymond Blanc’s world travels, is hit and miss. The dishes we tried show promise, a highlight being the stew, but the cod – a wonderful dish in theory – needs tightening up in flavour and execution. Further exploration of the new menu would probably give us a better idea.
However, with a good atmosphere, mainly delicious food and brilliant service, our visit is undeniably a pleasant one. Diners looking for a meal which will feel and taste far more expensive than it actually is, could do far worse than this chain.
60 Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8HP
020 7710 9440