Monday, October 1, 2012
Raymond Blanc is taking over Britain. Starting with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons—his famous two-Michelin-star restaurant in Oxfordshire—he has recently expanded his culinary empire by opening a chain of restaurants around the country. The capital already has several of them, including the Brasserie Blanc on London’s South Bank.
The concept is simple: good French food in a relaxed atmosphere. Blanc himself even says that “if the Manoir is a delicate waltz then the Brasseries are the Can Can”. And who doesn’t like a good can-can?
I was invited to try the Brasserie Blanc on the South Bank, and I looked forward to experiencing this dining spectacle firsthand. When I arrived at the buzzing restaurant, I had a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere before being joined by my dinner companion. Sitting at a table on a cozy banquette, I had a view of a warm, convivial dining room. I liked it.
I also liked my server, who was just the right level of attentive from the time I sat down until the time I left. He brought a bottle of the house red, a juicy, jubilant Brasserie Blanc Pays d’Oc 2010, that, fittingly, was the can-can of wines.
From there the starters made their entrance. I had a bourse de chevre, a crispy goat’s cheese parcel with French beans and tomato chutney. Across the table a beautiful steak tartare made of hand minced Cornish fillet steak, egg yolk, capers, shallots, gherkins, Dijon mustard, and Tabasco sauce debuted.
My bourse was rich and rustic, just as one would expect from a good can-can-inspired kitchen. The steak tartare was slightly more refined, but we won’t hold that against it.
After the starters exited stage left, the mains made their appearance. The twin fillet steaks were definite crowd pleasers, with their rich flavors dancing across our palates. The sides of fries were winning supporting cast members as well.
Dessert was the grand finale at Brasserie Blanc’s London can-can show. A summer berry pavlova took center stage for me, and a Valrhona chocolate crumble for my dining partner.
The pavolva was a bit hard, and the crumble a bit crunchy. Dessert wasn’t the strongest number in this show.
But overall the dinner was a success, and I would go back for a repeat performance. Given how quickly Brasserie Blanc is expanding in London, I won’t have to look hard for my next can-can-show-on-a-plate. Encore!