Far from the pretentious town centre eateries, Jericho’s Brasserie Blanc is not to be overlooked. It is exactly what it says on the tin –the food is uncomplicated, but immensely satisfying, and the staff are prompt and polite almost to a fault. It is clear that this small but swiftly growing chain, established by superstar chef Raymond Blanc, has got the formula spot on.
We opted for the three course set menu, which at lunchtime costs a reasonable £14.45. The blue cheese beignet starter was sublime. The mature cheese melted perfectly in your mouth, bursting out of the thin batter casing onto the pear, walnut and, surprisingly, candied apricot salad beneath it. It was warming and just light enough to leave me ravenously anticipating my main course –haddock and poached egg.
Sadly, I was presented with a pretty lacklustre dish. Sure, the fish was cooked beautifully and easily fell apart into flaky chunks on my plate, but that was the extent of my enthusiasm. Every element was a warm shade of beige, with the somewhat overpowering mustard sauce rendering the dish regrettably one-note. Unfortunately the gnocchi in wild mushroom sauce wasn’t much better. Instead of a heady, woody sauce, the fluffy potato dumplings were drizzled with a watery grey concoction.
This did not tarnish my view of the Brasserie however, as dessert was the stuff of dreams – a sticky toffee pudding which made almost every other dish ever to bear the name weep bitterly into its custard. It was gooey and sweet, served piping hot with vanilla-flecked ice cream to balance the delicious richness of the toffee sauce that the pudding was bathed in.
Yes, the main was disappointing, but at under-£15-a-head it seems churlish to complain. If you’re after some tasty French cooking (perhaps the parents are visiting) bypass the big names and take a stroll up Walton Street. Brasserie Blanc will not let you down.
PHOT/ Brasserie Blanc