FOOD REVIEW: The Dish Detective investigates Brasserie Blanc, Gunwharf Quays
The thought of dining in Gunwharf Quays is one that makes me feel a little giddy. It has all the makings of a picturesque evening '“Â the sun setting over the harbour, the fine dining restaurants'¦ it really is a blissful way to spend an evening.
But evenings like that don't come cheap, so I had to saveÂ a bit of money beforehand.
Brasserie Blanc '“ the franchise of world-famous chef Raymond Blanc '“Â is a quintessentiallyÂ French restaurant experience.
With a positive review on these pages two years ago, I felt it was time to revisit Monsieur Blanc's establishmentÂ to see if those high standards had been maintained.
I went along with a friend and we were impressed from the moment we walked in.
We decided against taking one of the candlelit tables (though for those looking for a romantic evening, they are ideal) and had a quick glance through the 11-page drinks menu. TheÂ extensive wine list was separate.Â
After both settling for a glass of sauvignon blanc, the specials caught our eyes, and my dining companion went for the sausage salad starter.Â
I had mussels in white wine sauce (Â£6.95) to start Â '“ which was served in what can only be described as a little cauldron.
While some places tend to shortchange you on the starter, this could easily have been a main course, especially given how many mussels I had.
The white wine sauce was beautifully creamy and well-seasoned, and the mussels were faultless.
Moving on to the main course, I opted for the beef bourguignon (Â£16.65), which was served on a bed of creamy mash withÂ red wine sauce.
The vegetables had a nice crunch, which surprised meÂ givenÂ they had been soaking in the red wine sauce '“ whichÂ was superb.
However, it was the beef that was, predictably, the highlight of this meal.
Slow cooked to perfection, it pulled easily apart, and seemed as though it was melting in the mouth. It was an absolute joy to eat.
My only complaint would be that the creamy mash had a couple of lumps in it (though that didn't detract from the flavour).
My companion went for the sirloin steak (Â£19.95) with a side of macaroni cheese and truffle oil (Â£3.90).
He felt that the cheese on top of the pasta was fairly dry, but praised the truffle oil for its flavour.
HeÂ said it was perfectly medium-rare, and was pleased with the taste, especially with the pepper sauce.
For dessert, I decided to have the lemon tart (Â£6.50), which was served with a generous serving of creme fraiche.
The base of the tart was very sweet, with a zesty flavour overall. I must admit, I was slightly apprehensive about the creme fraiche, but it perfectly cleansed the taste buds.
The staff were exemplary throughout '“Â always friendly and didn't rushÂ us, which was thoroughly appreciated.
I also love how the cooking is done in full view of the customers, and it is clear to see just how much the chefs enjoy their jobs.
My only gripe would be the cost. Between two of us we ended up spending nearly Â£120; however, you certainly get what you pay for, and the evening was a delight.
I would love to go back to Brasserie Blanc, but for now, Dish Detective will be living off Pot Noodles until payday.
RATINGS (out of five)
">Tel: 01329 829680