A new restaurant chain is titillating the taste buds of French food lovers in England – and it bears one of the best names in the business. Brasserie Blanc, named after Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc, has become the latest addition to our high streets, bringing great food to the masses.
It sits above Côte in the culinary pecking order, which in turn is better than Café Rouge.
I tried a Brasserie Blanc last Saturday, as the start of a weekend away in Portsmouth with my partner, Damon. We had booked a good restaurant for the evening, so we just needed a lunch to fortify us for our trip around the outlet shops at Gunwharf Quay.
Brasserie Blanc was the obvious choice for us. It was given a makeover last year and is well placed to catch hungry shoppers.
As a chain, it is, of course, a diluted version of what you might expect of the full Raymond Blanc experience at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
When he sold his Petit Blanc chain, its new owners rebranded it Brasserie Blanc and set about expanding the business. With Blanc on the board of directors and approving the new menus, dishes became simpler to produce. Which means the chain has been able to halve the number of chefs per restaurant from 20 to around 10.
That isn’t to say that they have sacrificed flavour in the pursuit of efficiency. I had plaice with samphire and frites and it was delicious. A glass of sauvignon blanc from the Loire proved the perfect accompaniment.
“With Blanc on the board of directors and approving the new menus, dishes became simpler to produce”
It set us up nicely for an expedition around the outlet mall – maybe too well. I bought a coat, a cardigan, two shirts and two pairs of shoes.
It’s just a pity that my hometown of Brighton doesn’t have a Brasserie Blanc – or quite the same range of discount stores. Mind you, even discounted, the clothes weren’t cheap. So, maybe it’s just as well we don’t.