Brasserie Blanc, City, nice buzz but could be better

And so up to the City for lunch with my old Uni housemate Tazza. She is finally getting hitched later this year so being a gallant chap I offered to take her out for a celebratory lunch. Now “Gaucho” and “Goodman” apart I have struggled to have a good meal up in the city. It’s a nice area for a drink but the restaurants veer between unsatisfying soulless chains and very high end eateries. Finding the mid priced places can be tricky hence a lot of people head over to Farringdon and Clerkenwell. However amongst the usual suspects a few new places are popping up. Some of the city developments deserve a pat on the back for at least trying to get in some different tenants. “Brasserie Blanc” is a case in point, part of redeveloped block but offering something a bit more refined than the “Corney & Barrow” and yet affordable to most budgets. So after getting a little bit lost on my Boris bike I finally got to the Bank of England museum bay and wandered around to “Brasserie Blanc”. It’s on the corner of an alleyway running down off Old Broad St. As such it has a cake slice shape so big windows running down the side that narrow as you get to the entrance in the alleyway. The entrance has a small bar with some seating, you then walk up into the main restaurant with it’s high ceiling, additionally there is a sort of mezzanine level over the back that I imagine serves for spill over or private dining. As you can perhaps gather they have made good use of a rather odd shaped restaurant unit. The kitchen is on the opposite side of the room from the windows. It’s not open as such but it has a big passé so you can see the chefs finishing off the dishes.

I was a bit early so I sat in the bar waiting for Tazza, the staff were busy setting up for lunch but a few other people were already in the bar waiting to go through. It had a nice feel to it, I like to see restaurants like this just before they open, it creates a sense of anticipation. Despite their being plenty of staff milling around nobody offered me a drink which was a bit remiss but I didn’t have to wait long for Tazza to turn up and we were shown straight through to our table. As I pointed out the main restaurant is nice and open, it created a nice buzzy atmosphere without it becoming too loud even as it soon filled up. I think the intention here is to re-create the classic Parisian brasserie and to be fair they make a good stab at it. The menu is very much in that mould, lots of French classics. Tazza started with a mixed salad which she very much enjoyed. As I had cycled from the West End I treated myself to the cheese soufflé which was really very good, light but with lots of flavour and garnished with a nice salad. To follow we both had moules and frittes. The mussels were very nice, really sweet tasting, nice broth not too salty. The chips were a bit disappointing, they had skins on to show they were fresh cut rather than bought in but they lacked crunch. Another minute in the fryer would have helped. We washed this down which a perfectly nice Carafe of Sauvignon Blanc.

We were enjoying catching up and the restaurant had a great atmosphere so we decided to stay for dessert. I had a very nice lemon pudding which was drenched in a lovely lemon sauce with pieces of cooked off lemon. It was refreshing and again like the soufflé not too heavy. Tazza went for the cheese which was presented nicely and cut at the table for her. However some of the cheese itself had been left out too long and had got dried out. Not ideal might have been better to start the new week with fresh pieces. Anyway a couple of niggles aside we enjoyed a very nice lunch in a very nice restaurant. It was nearly full on a Monday lunchtime and I can see why. Service was friendly, professional and unobtrussive. Dishes came out, were served up and we were left to enjoy them which is all you really want. The bill came to about £100 with tip which was OK in my book. It was nice to see the brasserie concept done well like this.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Overall rating
Food 7 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 7

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