Published on October 20th, 2014 | by Rebecca Anne Milford0
Brasserie Blanc, Fitzrovia
Summary: A new fizz had me all in a tizz - and the food was as superb as any bistro en Francais
Great French Cuisine
I’m not going to lie – up until about a year ago, the way I approached the wine menu was pretty standard. The colour of meat determined the colour of vino, and I would then peer up and down, furrowing my brow, and eventually settle on the one second-from-house. Unless I was really splashing out, then I’d go third from the bottom.
Of course, now I know better. There are a couple of occasions when the house is just fine to order – but more often than not I’m happy to pay an extra few quid here and there to know I’ve got a wine I’m sure to like. Hell, sometimes I even lean across and advise other on what I think they should have.
But that in no way means I’m au fait with bubbles. For one thing, I don’t order them enough. And even then – prosecco or cava? Champagne from this region or that? Nope, I’m stumped.
Still, when I went to Brasserie Blanc for a meal that was more of a special occasion than normal recently, I was intrigued by the new fizz on their menu – their own Mousseux Premium Blanc de Blancs. Their answer to the Italian prosecco, it is made using French grapes and promised to be fruity, light and sparkling; Blanc de Blancs it was, then.
All I can say is that prosecco ought to be quaking in its bottle right now. Light, zesty, and with a lovely crisp aftertaste that still managed to be soft on the palate, the drink slipped down all too easily. There wasn’t too much of that ‘mouthful of bubbles and no actual flavour’ that I find can be the result of having fizz. No, this was far more refined and elegant, and I was loving it.
So, it made sense to try the food as well, since the menu was peaking at me from the table and I’d have been passed out on the floor with no actual grub inside me after half a bottle of wine.
It makes sense to mention now that I am sometimes wary of French food as it can be too rich, too slathered in butter, and saturated with garlic. I have often left French restaurants clutching my sides as my stomach wails at me as to why I’ve punished it so. But you will be happy to hear that, at Brasserie Blanc, none of these things occurred. The food was delicious – there were clean plates all round – but it is a testament to the cooking that, although packed with flavour, the chef did not rely on salt and fat. The true ingredients were left to shine though in each dish.
These dishes began as steak tartare and escargots – well, if you’re going to go French then put on a powered wig and call yourself Napoleon, is what I say. My tartare was superb – a mound of perfectly seasoned beef with a rich gold yolk wobbling atop like a nearly-set sun. Piercing it with my knife, it oozed down the sides and into the crevices, waiting to be mopped up with rounds of bread. The standard of the meat was evident, and each mouthful was a delight.
My partner’s snails also ticked all the boxes, and I am now a convert. It does not help that my first experience of snails was some rubbery, mingey little things served in a pot and coated in oily sauce. This was in Brussels and I have never tried them since. Luckily, the Brasserie Blanc variety were what snails are supposed to be – succulent treats coated in a green cloak of garlic and herb butter.
On to main courses, and after my meat-fest I was drawn to the sensational sounding spiced gilt head bream, roasted and served whole with aromatic vegetables. Served in a skillet, the fish was a monster. Huge chunks of white flesh fell off the bone and were incredibly juicy and fleshy, seasoned nicely with star anise and the complementary aniseed hint of fennel. I combined it with dauphinoise potatoes but to be honest I could have just settled on eating that fish, and even then it beat me. I managed to tear myself from it briefly to try a piece of my partner’s steak (served with a very tasty béarnaise sauce, and cooked rare) and we accompanied both with a light and fruity point noir. The fish was so superb that there was no need for a sauce at all – the perfectly cooked flesh melted in the mouth and the al dente vegetables did it for me.
Still, I naturally reserved space for a dessert. After careful consideration we agreed that one of us would have the chocolate soufflé and the other would have the mango and pineapple salad. I thought this would mean I was fighting for my half of the chocolate, but actually they were each as nice as the other. The soufflé had risen just perfectly – it was pillowy, fluffy, and light as chocolate air, yet still moist in the middle. The fruit salad was served with roasted ginger and almond crumble that was a welcome contrast to the juicy fruit.
So, there we are. We finished our meal and sat back, lulled by the atmosphere. With the low lamplight, soft music, paneled wood and murmurings of other customers, you can well imagine being in a tiny bistro in France somewhere. The whole place was intimate and authentic and the kind of place that transports you over dinner, so if you’re in London and want delectable fresh food, fizz, and a warm reception, then head to Brasserie Blanc.
Brasserie Blanc, 8 Charlotte St, W1T 2LSShare This Post