Did you know there was a Raymond Blanc restaurant in Leeds?
No neither did I.
Hidden away, almost from sight, on the banks of the river Aire in an old mill on Sovereign Street sits Brasserie Blanc. It's sat there for 8 years.
Once again I begin to think of the city's preoccupation with all that is new and trendy, with places of old being forgotten. Granted BB is not as old as Bibi's, Salvo's and the Olive Tree but it's definitely being overlooked.
I was invited to the relaunch of Brasserie Blanc, they had a fab new makeover and wanted to celebrate it. When asked to attend I felt like I had heard of the name Brasserie Blanc before but as I made my way there I was almost certain it wasn't familiar to me, I had no idea it was even there!
Following the relaunch I was invited back to try out the food and gauge a better understanding of the restaurant.
I really like the look and the feel of the BB, I'm informed the bar area (complete with sofas) is new and the restaurant is well spaced out so you don't feel like you're sitting on the lap of the people sat next to you on a different table (restaurants of Leeds take note).
We were offered a bottle of sparkling wine, but as D was driving and it was a school night we politely declined, instead we were offered another bottle of wine with a screw top so we could enjoy a glass now and take the bottle away with us, this sat very well with us. We chose a Bordeaux, a bottle of Chateau Haut-Roudier. It slipped down the throat a little too well for a Monday night and it accompanied all of my courses well.
After a weekend of incredible indulgence we decided to share a starter and a apertif. Our apertif of choice was the Trempettes and our starter the charcuterie.
|Trempettes - olive tepenade, saffron garlic mayonnaise, virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and baguette.|
The trempettes were great, full of flavour. I tried as many variations as possible on the bread struggling to decide which was the favourite, the sweet balsamic, the creamy garlic mayo, the salty olive tepenade...it was just too close to call, they complemented each other perfectly. Who knew something so simple could taste so good.
|Charcuterie - bayonne ham, rosette de Lyon, salami, porl rillettes, coppa Savoyard sausage, pickles and sour-dough bread|
The charcuterie was a good mix of meats and pickled vegetables, we struggled a little with one of the cured meats and the third slice was left redundant at the end but aside from this everything else was spot on. The pickled carrots left D exclaiming that they were the best carrots he had ever tasted! Quite a statement.
D having had steak a lot recently decided not to order steak, although he looked slightly pained in doing so. Instead he ordered the slow braised Lincolnshire Pigs' cheeks.
|Lincolnshire Braised Pig Cheeks|
Served with creamed flageolet beans, savoy cabbage and crumbed crackling, it looked warm and comforting. Perfect for autumn. In terms of the flavour D found it a bit bland, I took a bite however and thought it was piggy enough for me but I think I prefer my pigs' cheeks of the past where they have been served in a gravy making it seem a little more juicy. Nevertheless, still a really good dish.
D was asked if he wanted a side with his main, he asked what they suggested and the suggestion was potatoes. After a good 5 minutes of us trying to say dauphinoise without it sounding like dolphin nose before the waitress came over this became the immediate choice. The creamy potatoes with the creamy dish probably wasn't the best combination and I think it left D feeling rather full and sickly afterwards.
I heard someone on the table next to us exclaim that the task in ordering would be to avoid the *obvious* French options, surely if you're dining in a French restaurant the French options are going to be what they do best? I wouldn't go to a Mexican restaurant and think "Oh, I'm not ordering the tacos as they so *obviously* Mexican". No, just no. With this logic in mind I ordered from the 'Les Classiques' menu choosing the Roast Barbary Duck with Blackberry Sauce.
|Roast Barbary Duck|
The duck consists of breast and a leg (very gluttonous) and is served with dauphinoise potato, pot roasted carrots, red wine and blackberry sauce. It was a delight. The breast was tender, cooked perfectly (I asked for pink and it came pink, not dark or underdone - hurrah!) it wasn't tough in the slightest. The last time I had duck previous to this night was in Croatia and the duck was very tough. The leg was full of flavour with the meat falling off the bone at the touch of my fork. The creamy potatoes brought it all together with the sweet sauce. I loved my dish and it reminded me how much I love duck, despite my recent encounters.
Having had a light starter we agreed that we could treat ourselves to dessert. The traditional French desserts were missing from the menu, such as chocolat pot or creme brulee.
D ordered the Caramel Souffle, that was announced as a cheese souffle when it reached our table. I hoped it wasn't and reassured D nervously that it wasn't... thankfully it wasn't!
When ordering dessert we were told that the souffle would take 10 minutes to make as it was made fresh, there was no problem on our part with this as it would allow our mains to settle a little and I'd almost expect to wait a little for dessert anyway. The souffle is served with rum and raisin ice cream. D ate half of it and then passed it over to me as I couldn't eat my own dessert, you'll see why shortly, it was sweet and the sugar caramelised as I ate it, the ice cream paired with it brilliantly.
I ordered the mirroir cassis, blackcurrants and blackcurrant mousse with a cat's tongue biscuit.
It was far too tart for me, so sweet it made my mouth scrunch up tightly with the strength of it. I was really struggling so D being the gentleman he is, offered to swap desserts with me as he enjoys tart tasting food.
Service that night was spot on, it surprised me how busy it was despite it being a Monday evening. It wasn't loud busy but atmospheric busy, no one likes to dine in a dead restaurant. I'm sure most people dining that night were entertaining clients due to it's location and style but it would be interesting to see who their clientèle are on a weekend.
During the week there is an early bird menu until 6.30pm where two courses will set you back £9.95. Absolute bargain! I spoke with the manager at the end of the night who advised the a la carte menu changes seasonally and the set menu changes monthly, keeping the chef and waiting staff on their toes and enuring that you can never grown bored of Brasserie Blanc.