Brasserie Blanc

In the far and distant past I remember watching a cookery programme (or probably a series) featuring Raymond Blanc. His restaurant, Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, always came across as a place of excellence and I use to think if I ever had the money, the time and lived near Oxford then I would probably visit it at least once.

I was also given for a Christmas Present one year, his book, Recipes From Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons which was full of amazing recipes and cooking techniques that to be honest I knew I didn’t have the skill or experience to even try! I just read it for the experience and knowing that even though I enjoy cooking, I am no chef.

I had seen his new chain, Brasserie Blanc, advertised somewhere on the web, but hadn’t ever sought out a branch. There is one in Bristol, but I had never been there.

“I am often asked what a Brasserie Blanc is. Well if the Manoir is a delicate waltz then the Brasseries are the Can Can. For sure, this is not a place for refined haute cuisine and three course meals. Rather, Brasserie Blanc is a place for relaxed enjoyment where I can offer you simple, high quality food that comes as close as possible to the meals that my mother prepared for me at home in Besançon and at a price that encourages you to visit us regularly. The real origins of French brasseries are lost in time and probably in several litres of beer but nowadays in France they are the bastions of good eating and drinking, locally and informally. I want my Brasserie Blancs to be a central part of the local community where you can have fun and enjoy particularly good food. So sit back and relax”

Raymond Blanc

So when out in Cheltenham with David Sugden recently looking for somewhere to eat, we saw it and having looked at the menu went in for a meal. Now David has already blogged about this meal and you can read that here.

Initially interested in the fixed price menu, both of us did indeed prefer the starters on the main menu. Asking the waiting staff and found that this wasn’t going to be a problem.

For my starter I went with the grilled squid and courgettes, parmesan and roquette salad.

The squid was fresh, had been grilled in chunks. It was very nice, though I felt there was a little too much chilli for me, but certainly not excessive enough to ruin the dish. The thinly sliced courgette worked well in the dish and I really quite enjoyed it.

For the main course I went with confit of pork, caraway cabbage, roast tomato sauce.

Now I have to admit I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, I am not sure I have even eaten duck confit, but I have read about it…. So when it arrived I was a little unimpressed. It appeared to be a reheated large slice of roast pork. It was on a bed of cabbage with caraway speeds, a very nice tomato sauce and a few roast potatoes. The pork had some flavour, but wasn’t what I was expecting and I don’t think I would order it again. Difficult to say whether it was good or bad, as there wasn’t anything I could compare it with. I did like the accompanying cabbage, and it went well with the pork, the sauce was good too.

For the dessert, we went with the cheese platter. Traditionally made, seasonal French and English cheeses specially selected by Eric Charriaux, “Premier Cheese Company” (Cabécou, Pavé Correzien, Deauville, Shropshire Blue). As David mentioned in his blog, there was a bit of theatre in the serving of the cheese. Apart from the slightly stingy portions I really enjoyed the different cheeses, but then I always like cheese and biscuits.

Overall I did enjoy the meal, it certainly was not the best I’ve had, but was very enjoyable, of course the atmosphere and the company was what made it more enjoyable. Would I go again? Hmmm not sure, possibly.

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