Left: the Terrace Right: Cocktails
9 Belvedere Road, London SE1 8YP
BRASSERIE BLANC I
usually equate dining on the South Bank with noisy crowds of people, rushing through a meal before dashing off to the National, BFI or one of the concert halls. At 7:30 however, after the pre-theater rush, Brasserie Blanc was an oasis of calm where the waiters were relaxed, attentive and served us at a leisurely pace. A good trick to remember if you want more South of France and less South of Bank! Brasserie Blanc is one of the affordable French chains. A bit more elegant than some, a bit pricier than others, it is classic French with no surprises. The owner is renowned Chef Raymond Blanc who has held two Michelin stars for over 30 years at the dining room of his manor house hotel, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. It has to be said, there is no glimmer of these stars at Brasserie Blanc. Still, there is a hint of the inspiration Chef Blanc found at his mother’s table. An inspiration that has served him well. I started with an Eden Mist cock-
tail (£6.25). Gin, elderflower, cucumber, lemon, cloudy apple and a splash of soda. Very refreshing. A Berry Burst mocktail (£3.75) of muddled blackberries, cranberry, lime and Fever Tree lemonade was a hit. And the berries weren’t confused at all. Boom – tish! A bisque-like fish soup (£6.50) was nicely flavored with fennel and came with the classic accompaniments: croutons, rouille and grated cheese. Sadly, it was lukewarm, spoiling an otherwise delicious starter. Quel dommage! Moules Mouclade (£6.90) was on the money! The briny broth, flavored with citrus, saffron and curry was like a trip to the sea. We soaked up every drop with good baguette and washed it down with a glass of Picpoul (£5.80/175ml). Citrus on the tongue and a buttery finish. Boeuf Bourguignon (£16.50) had a good sized piece of tender beef, lots of lardons, carrots and mushrooms but not enough wine. Without this distinguishing factor, the
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick dish becomes beef stew which we enjoyed. It’s served with a mound of mash that could satiate even the healthiest of appetites. Roast Barbary Duck with citrus sauce (£18.50) was an excellent dish, though it pushes the boundary of the affordable category. It was a nice change to have both breast and thigh and lovely bits of orange peel enhanced the sauce. Served with an equally good potato dauphinoise. A fruity Pinot Noir (£10.95/250ml) with lots of berry and a dark, spicy Côtes du Rhône £9.90/250ml were both good wines. The big glasses were enough to get us through a main and a good, very reasonable cheese course. For dessert, a pistachio soufflé was light as a cloud. Sweet but not cloying and pared very well with dark chocolate ice cream. With this dish, I felt I got a little taste of Raymond Blanc’s heart and soul. I might save up for 2-3 years for the real deal in Oxford. UNLESS I GET AN INVITATION BEFORE THEN!