Brasserie Blanc is a delightful converted Victorian mill nestled between the modern offices and the edge of the canal just off Sovereign Street and has carved a reputation for the excellence our popular French friend is famous for. Raymond Blanc himself is a self confessed lover of Yorkshire and in particular, Leeds. He appreciates the city’s rich history and how it is surrounded by local producers; only fitting then he put down roots here and with nod to each of the things that he holds in high esteem.
You could almost be forgiven for walking right by this canalside hideaway; which for me is part of it’s charm.
The open brickwork and low vaulted ceilings enhanced by cast iron pillars create a really modern, yet almost stately, confident feel. Giant candelabras and clusters of wine bottles are filled with candles creating a warm glow and almost accidental artwork of wax dripping on wax for long periods of time.
The duty manager Chris is on hand to see new arrivals to their seats and ensure each understands that their wish is his command. We’re there for a quiet meal and what I love about this place already is that there is hustle and bustle near the bar area -and later add music. But the deeper you go into the heart of the restaurant, the quieter it becomes. It’s meant to be like this, there are still full tables, but less of them and the lighting is less. Whatever your reason for a good meal out, this will have a table to suit.
On being seated, it starts to become obvious that the team here are one. Each is doing their own bit to make the place run smoothly, because they want to. Marta Gonzalez, General Manager says; “we all believe in team-work and if we are having fun then the guests will too and the restaurant will be a success.
She continues to explain; “not only this, but we work very long hours, we are together for long periods and it’s important that we respect each other. This is always considered when hiring new people into the team. If the team works well, the work will be easier for all.”
Our drinks waiter John and our food waiter laticia are both enthusiastic about our enjoyment and proudly describe the specials and their own recommendations like the perfect dinner party hosts. Their knowledge is vast, and welcome.
The menu is just as enticing as the surroundings. It’s French, but not so much that most diners couldn’t find something akin to one of their favourites I’m sure. The tartare is celebrated with several versions of this French staple, and the steak, we are told draws diners from far and wide. It’s free range pasture reared Cornish heritage beef which has been dry aged for at least 30 days. Now that’s a steak alright.
Mr M, being a self confessed expert of all things ‘meat’ chose to go with the steak and was quite obviously not disappointed. Just the right amount of fat and medium rare -exactly how it should be, it was, making it a highlight. My favourite dish of the evening was the potted shrimp. It had a twist on the usual suspects of flavour accompaniments as nutmeg replaced the garlic in the luxuriously smooth butter. I also couldn’t resist a stolen forkful of Mr M’s cheese souffle which was another texture and flavour hit for me.; light and fluffy with a little bit of ooze with warm cheddar sauce on the side.
All that we were served delighted as it was presented with love. A miniature pan here, a wooden board there, a splash of jus on the side and a caramel shard reaching from a gleaming chocolate ganache, it was all just right.
If I could change one thing, it would be that the dessert menu could be just a little naughtier, more chocolate, more caramel -but that’s just my sweet tooth.
Its good to know there’s a great value set menu available too; The Menu Maman Blanc. It’s fresh and seasonal and changes on the first Thursday of each month and at £11.95 for two courses, it’s -perfect for lunch in Leeds for the nearby office community.
Sunday lunch has it’s own menu as do children; they have three in fact, all catered for different age groups -genius. So when all is said and done, Brasserie Blanc is a good all round option catering for any age diner and any occasion.
Potted Shrimps – Coastal Cheddar Cheese Souffle
Spiced Breast of Barbary Duck – 10oz Sirloin & Sauce Bearnaise
Lemon Parfait – Chocolate & Coffee Marquise
Under £70 for two (without drinks)