Restaurant review - Brasserie Blanc, Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 December 2018
Cheshire boasts yet another place to sample Raymond Blanc's cuisine with the opening of Brasserie Blanc at the Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel
You just can’t keep a good man down. Not content with sustaining two Michelin stars for over 30 years at his Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire, Raymond Blanc set himself the task, through Brasserie Blanc, of creating French-style eateries as ‘warm and welcoming as Maman Blanc’s home’.
Maman Blanc would be spoilt for choice now. There are no less than 20 Brasserie Blancs, and another 17 pubs with a Raymond-influenced menu run by the sister White Brasserie company.
You might have thought Cheshire achieved peak Raymond when Brasserie Blanc in Knutsford and White Brasserie’s The Oakwood in Alderley Edge opened on the very same day in 2016.
But no. Now there’s another, even bigger incarnation of Brasserie Blanc at the Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel in Hale Barns. Another chance then to compare how the different restaurants realise the master’s vision in a game we like to call (hilariously, I’m sure you’ll agree) Blancety Blanc.
First observation is that the Hale Barns Brasserie Blanc is next door to San Carlo Fiorentina. It’s a good fit, both being extremely good chains which have justifiably grown like knotweed.
The large room at the Manchester Airport Marriott was never going to lend itself to the kind of atmosphere created by Brasserie Blanc in the characterful Royal George Building in Knutsford. But there is a Gallic flavour to the decor, a bustling, brassy charm and lots of comfy booths.
The French staples on the menu, including a wonderful slow-cooked boeuf bourguignon, steak tartare, moules frites and duck leg cassoulet, are dotted in among favourites from other cuisines such as Thai samosas, Malabar fish curry and lamb tagine. There are some steak options, but also a couple of vegan choices.
Some of the dishes on the menu are now beginning to feel like old friends. One such is the ‘BB’ cheese soufflé (£6.95) which arrived looking bigger and even airier than previous incarnations.
Another winning starter was the potted crab and avocado (£8.75) - a little jar of dense, punchy crab meat with an orange seal of fat on top and a couple of gnarly pieces of sourdough toast on the side.
On to mains, the wild mushroom and truffle risotto (£15.50) was the perfect consistency but not quite truffly enough for my liking. Come to that, it wasn’t quite mushroomy enough, either - a dish in need of an umami boost.
Across the table, grilled cod (£16.75) was being enjoyed atop a squid ink risotto, with little chewy curls of squid on the side. Superb, my guest declared.
A pud of chocolate delice (£7.50) was, aptly, quite delicious and delightful. But my guest’s pistachio soufflé with chocolate ice cream was - as at The Oakwood and Knutsford Brasserie Blanc - a fabulous smile-inducing green cloud of nutty joy.
Brasserie Blanc, Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel, Hale Road, Hale Barns WA15 8XW. Tel 0161 870 2633, brasserieblanc.com