The day I went to Brasserie Blanc it snowed. Twice. In April. Like the rest of London, I was inappropriately dressed for a blizzard, so I was more than a little grateful for the warm buzz of the restaurant when I eventually blew in.
The newly opened Brasserie Blanc on the Southbank is one of five in London serving hearty French dishes from renowned chef Raymond Blanc. The large room was already full when I arrived, with a distinct pre-theatre atmosphere amongst the eager diners. The brand new décor of stylish panelling and contemporary artwork brought a cosy and relaxed feel, apparently inspired Blanc’s own home.
Once my guest and I had settled in we tucked into the bread and butter, both noting the fresh warm bread and commenting that it boded well. For our starter we chose the chilli and ginger squid with coriander, grilled courgette and aubergine. It came on a bed of endive and rocket with a delicious smoked paprika and red pepper dressing. The squid was well cooked but the combination of grilled vegetables with the dressing stood out. We also shared the potted cromer crab with avocado which came with toasted sourdough and prawn butter. The crab was beautifully fresh and the shallot and coriander lent a sharpness to the perfectly ripe avocado. The only mistake we made was in sharing it.
For main course my guest ordered the piemontaise chicken salad with grana cheese, black olives and crouton. It was a predictably good chicken salad but as with the squid dish, the dressing (in this case it was caper and anchovy) was the highlight. I had the roast duck with citrus sauce, a slightly heavier and richer option with a side of dauphinoise potatoes which were perfectly creamy and garlicky. Our brilliant waiter recommended a perfect Rioja to compliment the duck and ensured my non wine-drinking guest was never without a G&T.
Dessert consisted of a chocolate and almond torte with a crunchy biscuit exterior and a melting chocolate middle, as well as a baked tarte au citron which mainly served as a delicious palate cleanser considering how full we were by this point.
Brasserie Blanc offers simple, unfussy food in a modern and relaxed environment. I’ll be back, but I won’t be sharing the crab.