Brasserie Blanc, Leeds
Tel: 0113 220 6060
Open Mon to Fri 12noon to 2.45pm & 5.30pm to 10.30pm
Sat 12noon to 11pm Sun 12noon to 10pm
Dinner for 2 inc 3 glasses wine £70.00
Brasserie Blanc Leeds opened in a blaze of publicity late last year. It was hard to open any newspaper or magazine in the county without the craggy, affable face of Raymond Blanc smiling from within. Personally, I had decided to wait for the circus to leave town before seeing if the rave reviews while he was in residence would stand up now he and his team had gone.
Located on the former site of the much-loved Leodis restaurant on Sovereign Street, the 120 cover brasserie and bar is totally French. It is hard not to imagine we were beside the Seine not the Leeds canal. The room is essentially one large open space but a very talented designer had been at work. Leather banquettes down the centre discretely divided the room and candles twinkling from every nook and cranny softened the mood. The tables dressed in white cloths and fresh flowers looked serious but not threatening and should we forget whose name is over the door, photos of M. adorn the walls. With his books and other paraphernalia also lining the bookshelves, this was my only gripe in what is a simply gorgeous room.
In keeping with the Gallic theme, staff looks as though they have flown in from the Champs Elysée with their crisp white shirts, neat black waistcoats and full-length aprons. The only difference is, these staff smile!
The menu boasts ‘Real French food close to home’ and it is. Snails and mussels, terrines and pâtés, garlicky soups, steak frites, calves liver, salads, soufflés and crêpes are just a few of the tempting dishes on offer. Prices are moderate to quite expensive with starters averaging £6+, mains between £12 and £22 and add on £2.75 for veg or an incredible £3.50 for French beans (?).
The wine list as expected is dominated by French and offers a good selection at reasonable prices for the quality on offer. A glass of house Sauvignon blanc (£3.25) I found a little thin though, and switched to a Bourgogne blanc which did a much better job, but at £5.70 a glass I would hope so.
We were going to go the full on French for our dinner with my favourite moules frites and most disliked escargots ordered. The mussels were beyond reproach, simply delicious with a sauce that needed extra bread for soaking up to make sure I didn’t miss a drop. With the snails, I still can’t work out was all the fuss is about, blobs of rubber swimming in garlic and butter is how they taste to me. What am I missing here because my husband devoured them?
A juicy 8oz fillet steak arrived unadorned on a wooden platter; it needed nothing more as it was quite simply perfect. It certainly didn’t need the hard, tepid chips served alongside; what a disappointment and what a surprise, this is one thing the kitchen should get right. A boned chicken leg stuffed with olives, capers and anchovies and a courgette fritter, looked less appealing on the plate. Oil oozed into the sauce and the fritter looked a little greasy too. It was, however, a delicious medley of tastes wrapped in both dark and light moist chicken. The fritter despite its appearance was crisp and light and a great complement to the rest of the dish.
Since the dinner I have been back to Brasserie Blanc for lunch and on the day the winter menu was launched. It was even more appealing than the one previously and an unctuous boeuf bourguignon and creamy mash just the thing on a cold winter day. As a few weeks have passed since my first visit any gripes I had have been ironed out except of course those pictures on the wall but never mind at least he’s handsome.