‘Only a hermit should eat alone,’ is chef Raymond Blanc’s amusing (if blunt and terribly French) motto. Tucked away behind the Southbank Centre, Brasserie Blanc provides an elegant space to gather (en famille, bien sûr!) for a pre-theatre lunch or dinner from a seasonally changing à la carte menu. Sourcing only sustainable seafood, free-range 30 day dry-aged steaks and artisan cheeses from ethical suppliers, the set menu is a bargain from £9.95 for two courses or £13.45 for three until 6.30pm.
We began with a tipple on the stylish terrasse, which is enclosed by potted plants and romantically lit by tiki torches. A gin-based rose martini and espresso martini were an enlivening accompaniment to the trempettes, a basket of sliced warm baguette served with pots of olive tapenade, saffron garlic mayonnaise and sweet balsamic vinegar. If you are a sauce queen like me, you may find it difficult to resist filling up on these even before you have had a chance to decide if a cheese soufflé followed by steak tartare is really de trop.
Though the ambiance of the main dining room is slightly reminiscent of a hotel restaurant, the staff are friendly and the large party in the private area were having a grand old time. In the mood for something lighter than the more traditionally French fare, we started with chilli and ginger squid, served on a bed of grilled courgette and the Mediterranean fish soup with garlic and saffron rouille. The squid was flavourful and tender and the blended soup rich and creamy. A main of seared king scallops was complimented nicely by a mixture of baby prawns and potatoes. The moules frites cooked in saffron mouclade were juicy and thick, served in a copious crockpot with a crunchy side of chips.
For dessert, we shared a puffy effusion of pistachio soufflé with chocolate ice cream and palate cleansing scoops of mango sorbet. The wine list is reasonably priced and though our meal came to around £50 a head including drinks, the prix fixe option ensures you can also dine well on the cheap. Brasserie Blanc provides a sophisticated start to a riverside evening of art or culture- make sure, like Raymond, you share it with friends or family!
Originally published at Eclectic Magazine online.