By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Whenever visiting a celebrity chef chain restaurant, there’s always a surrounding air of trepidation. It’s highly unlikely, of course, that the chef in question will be on hand to oversee everything that goes on within the kitchen, as well as giving the diner a chance to sample some of the cooking that they’ve witnessed on television. It is, however, likely that the restaurant will be absolutely filled with self-promoting portraits that adorn the walls, leaflets for the chef’s newest cookbook scattered over every single surface and, most importantly, said chef’s name. Often, the name won’t merely be emblazoned across the sign above the door; the guest will also be entitled to eat from all kinds of branded crockery and napkins to wipe substandard food from one’s lips and cheeks.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case with our recent visit to the recently re-opened Charlotte Street location of Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc. Of course, Mr Blanc’s name is above the door, and his cookbook is on display, but that’s about all. It’s not as though we’re being force-fed all types of Beatlemania-like rubbish, which is refreshing, to say the very least. Inside, the décor of the old Townhouse is modern and stylish, albeit unpretentious and not especially French, quite surprisingly. During our recent visit, we manage to narrowly miss the weekend lunch rush allowing us to dine from a comfortable booth to which the restaurant’s zealously friendly manager escorts us. And it’s not only the service that’s comforting. The A La Carte menu comprises a fair selection of French Brasserie fare; to start there’s a selection that includes the famous ‘BB’ Cheese Soufflé (£6.50), Escargots (£7.40), Scottish Scallops with Tomato Butter (£8.50) and an assortment of Salads. We both opt for the delicious Rainbow Beetroot Salad (£5.90) that’s presented as though it could feature within one of the local Art Galleries. The dish comprises a combination of different Beetroot that’s placed atop a Balsamic glaze and served with wafer thin Radish and Smoked Goat’s Curd and the balance of flavours achieved by the kitchen is absolutely marvellous.
My main of spiced Cod with Mousseline Potatoes, chosen from the specials board is acceptable, although a little underwhelming based on the strength of the starter. A tranche of spice crusted Cod is placed skin-side down on to the bed of mashed Potatoes: although aesthetically pleasing, the tastiest part of the dish soon becomes flaccid and un-enjoyable. Thankfully, the Fish in itself is cooked well, although the punch from the spice rub is only skin-deep. The Summer Vegetables, on the other hand, are almost perfect. My girlfriend thoroughly enjoys her dish of two pounded Chicken Breasts swimming in thick Roast Tomato sauce (£15.50); the Cherry Tomatoes are a little over-sweet for my personal palate, however. To finish, the Lemon Parfait, also from the specials board, is so sharp that our taste buds are unable to experience the presumably delicious taste of the accompanying black Cherries. As for my Chocolate Soufflé, it takes a while to arrive but it’s served with Pistachio Ice Cream that melts into the core and is absolutely divine. Providing a wonderful finale to an overall enjoyable dining experience.
Brasserie Blanc can be found at 8 Charlotte St, London W1T 2LS.