Posted on Thursday, 6th September 2012
Raymond Blanc, the two Michelin starred chef behind Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, lends his name to the new chain of restaurants called Brasserie Blanc which serves French brasserie food. The branch at Covent Garden has taken over the space where Chez Gerard once was, on the rooftop patio overlooking Covent Garden Piazza.
The interior of Brasserie Blanc Covent Garden allows for a lot of natural light, but the restaurant feels cramped with all the tables being tightly squished together. There is no disputing the fabulous location, but our table on the terrace did little to guarantee a view given the high stone balustrade that runs along the terrace.
A selection board (£11.90) of guinea fowl rillettes, Milano salami, seared mackerel, apple and pear chutney, cucumber crème fraîche, carrot vinaigrette, celeriac remoulade proved to be decent. The rillettes had a good gamey flavour running through it, and surprisingly did not taste overly fatty. The mackerel was fresh and nicely cooked.
Snails in garlic herb butter (£8.60) was soft, but was bland and lacked for seasoning, and was consequently dull. The garlic butter was sufficiently garlic-y for dipping your bread in.
Steak tartare made from good quality beef was nicely chopped, but it could have done with a bit more of a zingy kick and a touch more seasoning.
Chateaubriand for two (£56.20) was well cooked to produce a medium rare result in the middle. The steak was decent and tasty, but being quite a thick cut, the outer edges of the meat was a little dry. From a few side options that included fries and salad, we elected to have mashed potatoes which tasted odd with a peculiar floury aftertaste.
North Atlantic cod fillet with prawn potatoes (£17.80) was a disaster. The plate looked a mess and tasted a mess. The skin wasn’t crispy which didn’t help either.
Beef stroganoff with pilaf rice (£13.20) was poor. The beef looked dry with an ugly outer crust (ick) and the sauce was runny and lacked for the requisite creaminess.
A Brasserie Blanc flamed baked Alaska for two (£12.50), an ice cream dessert coated with sponge cake and meringue and flamed at the table with grand marnier, was really good. The creaminess of the ice cream and soft gooeyness of the meringue proved a good marriage of flavours.
Summer berry pavlova (£5.95) was also lovely. The crunchiness of the meringue with the juicy sweetness of the fresh summer berries worked a treat.
Valrhona chocolate crumble (£4.95) was quite dark, giving way to a hint of bitterness and a grainy texture in the chocolate. Nevertheless, the dessert would probably suit the palate of dark chocolate lovers.
Other than the steak, the mains really let the meal down. The starters weren’t altogether bad, and we enjoyed desserts very much. But all in all, Brasserie Blanc proved to be a bit of a trying experience. Our friendly, smiley waitress (bless her) kept apologising for delays and a forgotten starter. It clearly wasn’t her fault, but it revealed the chaos behind the restaurant’s management. It’s hard to believe that Raymond Blanc, a two-star Michelin chef, has backed this venture.
Food rating excluding dessert: 2.5/5
Dessert rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3/5
Price range: About £22 – £47 per head. Excludes drinks and service.