Brasserie Blanc, Charlotte Street
Chains aren't usually for me, but Brasserie Blanc is one I can get on board with. There are around six or so in London I think - each quite different - and then some more dotted around the country. I went to the Charlotte Street one for a work lunch last week and found that it had had a bit of a revamp - I've been there quite a bit before as its near my hairdresser and is the ideal spot for a restorative rose and a snack whilst swishing the new hairdo around.
This is their new Clubhouse area, which is pretty stylish and Soho House-like now. You could easily settle in there for the afternoon with your laptop and a coffee / wine or two.
Another reason I tend to head there is that they are always really accommodating to any babies / toddlers that have been hanging around me and my friends/family, which is very much appreciated. This time, I had Leo (19months) in tow, and they were as good as ever. He settled down to the charcuterie platter of pickled veg, rillettes and cured meats on the *excellent* children's menu (feat. mini moules, mac'n'cheese) whilst we got on with things:
Our host told us that we really ought to have some of their Mousseux Rose which is exclusive to BB and flying out the door. Of course, we obliged and it was the perfect aperitif to start a leisurely Friday lunch with - a lovely light pink persistent fizz that was worryingly easy to drink. Those over and done with, we fancied ourselves a bottle of sauvignon blanc - also good - to wash down the bread and saffron garlic mayo that had appeared. I'm usually a bread dodger Mon-Fri but I'd challenge even the most hardened paleo obsessive to ignore that baguette.
This was my starter: scallops baked in tomato butter (£8.50). Very nice indeed. Kind of like a more up to date Coquille St Jacques, perfectly cooked and vitally not as garlicky as the rest of the starters that caught my eye (escargots, I'm looking at you).
I continued on a fishy theme for the next course, plumping for the Sea Bream a la Bouillabaise from their 'classics' section of the menu, making it a permanent fixture withstanding any seasonal changes. Brasserie Blanc is meant to be just that - a brasserie - but actually every time I've been the food is actually a step up from standard brasserie fare that I've ever eaten in bog standard French places. I don't know how much involvement Raymond Blanc has, but I can only put it down to his golden touch as my bream was top notch. The skin had been crisped up beautifully, the flesh of the fish was just right and the Bouillabaise sauce was more refined than I was expecting. I thought it was fantastic and ate it all greedily:
The same could not be said for my dining companion, who's eyes were bigger than her belly and only managed about half of this good looking burger:
We were tempted by the dessert menu - I had my eye on a cherry amandine and there was also crepes suzette on the specials - but thought we'd better roll home while we still could.
Thank you Brasserie Blanc for a lovely lunch.
*I would have written nice things even if I'd paid, by the way.