Restaurant review - Brasserie Blanc, Knutsford
PUBLISHED: 19:58 26 September 2016 | UPDATED: 19:58 26 September 2016
What's the verdict on Raymond Blanc's new brasserie in Knutsford? Très bon, writes Louise Allen-Taylor.
Wouldn’t you know it: you wait ages for a new Raymond Blanc restaurant...and then two come along at once.
Yes, opening on the very same day were the The Oakwood in Alderley Edge and the Brasserie Blanc in Knutsford.
Both are in what were once Loch Fyne seafood restaurants, and there is a certain overlap in their menus. But while The Oakwood is a modern take on the traditional English pub, but with an injection of French sophistication (and, perhaps surprisingly, makes no capital of its Raymond Blanc connection), Brasserie Blanc in Knutsford is much more of an overtly Gallic experience, promising a brasserie as ‘warm and welcoming as Maman Blanc’s home’.
It’s in the characterful Royal George Building which you can enter from King Street - not a thoroughfare where the hungry diner will ever go short of choice. Straight out of the box, so to speak, Brasserie Blanc has a lived-in feel: craggy exposed brickwork around the fireplace, lots of blacks and greys including a strange monochrome wallpaper and a bustling vibe.
While the menu leans towards French classics - as does the wine list - the produce is proudly British, for instance Cornish beef and Shetland Isles mussels.
Or at least they are supposed to be Shetland Isles mussels. My moules mouclade starter (£6.90) uses mussels from Cornwall not Shetland (something to do with ‘algal bloom’, our pleasant waitress tells us, suggesting that Brasserie Blanc’s staff tend to know their stuff). Wherever they come from, the mussels are absolutely delicious, sitting atop a rich yellow, curry-like broth, humming with more complex flavours than the usual moules marinieres (also on the menu here). The portion is so generous that if you ordered this with a £1.50 bread basket, you’d have a decent meal in itself.
Across the table, my companion very much enjoys a French classic: a cheese soufflé (£6.50) served in a little frying pan with a mature Cheddar cheese sauce. There is a similar dish on The Oakwood’s menu - different presentation, same quality.
For a main, another French classic, boeuf bourguignon (£16.50). One big hunk of slow-cooked beef - charred on the outside, pink and friable on the inside, sits on a bed of outrageously creamy mash surrounded by a puddle of herby sauce. It’s a deeply satisfying dish.
Our other main is a grilled cod fillet au citron, the lemon marinade giving it a nicely understated citrus zing. With a light tomato sauce and a selection of summer vegetables, you get your five-a-day in a wholesome as well as tasty plateful.
There are more lemons in my pud - a thick tarte au citron (£5.50) which is lemony without being sharp, and rich without being cloying.
What with a proper French à la carte offer in a comfortable brasserie setting, plus a prix fixe menu, Monday to Saturday 12noon to 6.30pm of two courses for £10.95, Brasserie Blanc makes the competition for Knutsford’s dining pound that bit stiffer. And you could always compare and contrast the menu here with that at the other Blanc establishment The Oakwood in Alderley Edge - a gastronomic game we like to call Blancety Blanc.
Brasserie Blanc is at Royal George Building, Regent Street, Knutsford, WA16 6GR, tel 01565 622900, brasserieblanc.com