You may never have stumbled across Brasserie Blanc in Leeds before. If you haven’t, you’re not alone; this French bar and restaurant is tucked away at Victoria Mill on Sovereign Street, and isn’t great in terms of footfall, especially with the behemoth that is Trinity sucking shoppers and diners in like honey to bees. Anywhere that’s managed to stay open in Leeds for eight years, though, has to be doing something right.
Brasserie Blanc has recently undergone a pretty impressive renovation in order to attract more business diners (it’s very near the CBD in Leeds) and to haul in more after-work drinkers who might just decide to stay for dinner as well.
Whoever was behind the Brasserie Blanc renovations has done a good job; the interior is slick and modern without lacking in the comfort stakes. The bar now takes centre stage as you walk in, and there’s some casual lounge seating for those just looking for a glass of wine or two rather than a full-on meal.
With the boxes for nice setting (on the river) and fancy interior firmly ticked, it was time to move on to the main event that we’d been invited down to sample: the food!
To start with, we ordered trempettes, which essentially was a basket of sliced baguette with three little bowls to dip the bread in. The dips were olive tapenade, saffron garlic mayonnaise, and virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar. This was a real treat to whet our appetites; the balsamic vinegar in particular deserves special mention for being sweet, thick, and the perfect foil for the accompanying olive oil.
Moving on to the starters, I’d chosen moules mariniere, a favourite dish of mine and something I always look out for on any menu at a French brasserie. The mussels were delicious and the sauce was fantastic. It was flavoured with the usual mariniere ingredients but the fresh thyme really stood out in the dish, which is slightly unusual for a mariniere sauce.
Kyle had opted for another French classic: escargots in garlic herb butter. This starter was listed on the ‘Les Classiques’ section of the a la carte menu, so clearly Brasserie Blanc take pride in these particular dishes. The snails themselves weren’t overpowering in flavour and the addition of baguette made it easy to soak up the gorgeous herby butter. If you want a gentle introduction to snails, this is the dish for you!
With our starters finished, we had high hopes for our mains, and they soon arrived at our table, along with two (very nice, very drinkable!) glasses of Blanc de Blancs, Brasserie Blanc’s house champagne.
For my main, I’d chosen slow-braised Lincolnshire pigs’ cheeks, with creamy flageolet beans, Savoy cabbage, and crumbed crackling. When it arrived at the table, I have to admit I was slightly intimidated by the huge portion size, especially when the side of Dauphinoise potatoes turned up (although my regret in ordering this didn’t last long when I cut into the creamy, cheesy potatoes; they were exceptional).
The pork was tender, melt in the mouth, and surprisingly strong in flavour. It was actually almost too strong for me, but it fell just on the right side of packing a flavour punch and being overpowering. The beans were really scrummy and very filling with the addition of the cream. The subtle taste was exactly what the strong pork needed. All in all, a great, and very filling dish.
Kyle chose the roast duck with blackberry sauce, another listing on the ‘Les Classiques’ section of the menu. The duck was nicely cooked, especially the leg meat, and there was a nice balance to the dish overall, with the sweet blackberries and the red wine jus. The dish wasn’t quite as heavy as mine and was definitely a good representation of this French classic.
In all honesty, we were struggling for room for dessert, but we decided to order puds anyway and what a good job we did. If you do come to pay Brasserie Blanc a visit, please, please, please leave room for dessert. For us, it was the best of the three courses.
I had ordered the apple tart, which combined baked apples with almond cream and was topped with vanilla ice cream. I usually demand my apple tart to come drowned in custard and I was a little disappointed when this didn’t happen here. However, after I took my first bite, my disappointment faded away. The moisture here came from the cream that was actually combined with the apples inside the tart.
Kyle’s pudding was equally, if not more, amazing. He’d gone for a caramel souffle, cooked to order and served with rum and raisin ice cream. The souffle was exactly the right texture you demand from a decent souffle and the flavour was sweet and sugary. It was a real treat to dive into this perfectly cooked souffle and this has to be one of the best items on the entire menu at Brasserie Blanc.
Brasserie Blanc comes highly recommended to anyone wanting either a modern restaurant that cooks the classics very well for a business lunch to impress, or a place to just get a good feed. The only downside from our afternoon was the fact that I had to walk around Trinity afterwards feeling pretty ill from overeating (make sure you go here hungry!).
Categories: Restaurant reviews