French/Modern European with strong French influences
In A Word:
Professional types, lots of people in suits and smart attire. Wealthy residents in the area. There are a few couples scattered in the restaurant and by the bar.
Fulham Reach is Brasserie Blanc newest restaurant in London. Situated by the riverside close to Hammersmith Bridge, Raymond Blanc’s latest addition appears to be in an ideal location. I’m working up an appetite as I stroll along the Thames Path, engulfed by a cool evening breeze in the slow setting sun and then I see it. A modern glass-fronted building that bends in a possibly postmodern oval-shape. It’s already screaming sophistication, but what about inside?
The door opens before me by a lovely lady who greets me and asks if I would like to visit the bar or be seated while I wait for Jack who is currently running late…I’m tempted by the bar, but I don’t want to be the only lonely lady there so I ask to be seated. I’m slightly puzzled as to why we’re being seated at a table for four and not two as there are lots available, perhaps they’re all booked?
Still, I’m not complaining, our table has a lovely view of the riverside and the Thames Path with Hammersmith Bridge in the distance.
As I sit, I realise we’ve got a good view of the restaurant too. The bar takes centre stage (which isn’t surprising since Brassiere Blanc has an extensive wine list) and all the dining tables and comfy chairs appear to go around it in a semi-circle. There’s a mellow, chic look about the restaurant as a whole, thanks to its Earthly tones of browns and greens. The contemporarily styled fairy lights hanging from the ceiling gives it a rather romantic feel.
Jack has finally made it and to whet our appetites, we choose some Rustica Olives and Trempettes – a delightful display of sliced baguette with three dips. The olives are flavoursome with a firm flesh, although I’m a bit embarrassed about taking the bones out of my mouth without looking a little too common…anyway, I really want to talk about the Trempettes.
I’m usually nervous about having bread first thing because obviously it’s stodgy and fills you up quickly, but this bread is surprisingly light. Jack and I happily tear pieces and scoop it into the dips. The olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dip is obviously delicious, you can’t go wrong with that combination, but I do have mixed feelings about the olive tapenade.
I do like olives, but grinding them down to an almost grainy-like paste intensifies the brine and for me, it takes a while to get used to. However, the saffron garlic mayonnaise is a revelation. A pot of yellow silk that just glides onto the bread and awakes your palette. Yes, I’m afraid the humble garlic butter is quite the poor cousin compared to this beauty.
I’d be happy to just sit here and eat this. Unfortunately, we have to reject the waiters offer of more bread as there are another three courses to get through…
Jack and I are discussing the overall feel of the restaurant and our starters appear. Neither of us have known a starter to be served so quickly! I tuck into the Potted Cromer Crab while Jack digs into the Scottish Salmon Gravadlax.
I’m amazed by my starter. The crab is rich and creamy and the light prawn butter (yes that’s a thing) adds another dimension to the dish. The bottom layer of avocado gives it a fresh feel while the cayenne pepper adds a spicy zing. It’s especially moreish spread over the accompanying slices of soughdough toast.
Despite the Scottish Salmon Gravadlax looking a little unusual, Jack is impressed and so am I. Dill and salmon are a match made in heaven, and the fresh flavours of the cucumber julienne and lemon crème fraiche make a great accompaniment. Very classy too.
Onto the mains and such speedy service! I smile as I see the rainbow of colours that make up my Mediterranean Summer Salad. Appearance-wise alone, it lives up to its name. There’s a juicy mix of smoked Piquillo peppers, Padron peppers, courgette chunks and aubergine, resting on a bed of golden bulger wheat, haricot beans, lentils, pine nuts and sultanas.
It sounds like a mouthful but this is one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve had in a restaurant. There’s a lot going on with every bite, not just in terms of texture, but flavour as well. There’s a general tanginess to the dish, but every so often there’s a gentle burst of sweet sultana. Lovely.
Unfortunately, neither of us caught the full name of Jack’s main as it’s part of ‘Today’s Specials’ and not on the standard menu. So, we’ll call it the ‘Sous Vous Beef Loin with Roasted Vegetables’. It was highly recommended by our waiter and Jack is keen to try it. I have to admit, I’m not mad about red meat but this is a real treat. The meat is beautifully soft and tender and the creamy white sauce and little hints of truffle really lifts it. Jack is polishing everything off this dish!
Now for something I’ve been waiting all day for – dessert. Sadly, Jack doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth so he settles for a Cappuccino. Luckily, I do have a bit of a sweet tooth so I’ve gone for something truly indulgent – the Summer Berry Pavlova.
Again, exceptionally fast service and my eyes just pop at this three-tier piece of heaven. The combination really bursts on the palette. There’s the sugary sweetness of the meringue and cream blending with the slightly sharp and sour hints from the strawberries, blackberries and the raspberry coulis so it doesn’t become too sweet. There’s a lovely balance of textures here too, the crisp meringue, soft berries and thick whipped cream – all work well together.
I am full to the brim right now but that was worth it.
This is a gem of a restaurant. The food is excellent, OK the menu is not completely French but excellent all the same. It is expensive but that’s to be expected. The service is brilliant too. The waiters are friendly, knowledgeable and happy to recommend dishes, wines etc. Also, it’s rare to find a restaurant that serves up the right amount of portions. The dishes are not too small or too large. I’m full, but that’s after dessert and not the starter and that is a really good thing!
My only concern is its location. Although it’s busy in here, this is not the liveliest or busiest part of the riverside and is still being redeveloped. Perhaps they’re thinking about the future? However, the fabulous food, romantic ambience and riverside views should be more than enough to persuade you to make the trip.