I’d been meaning to pay Brasserie Blanc a visit ever since their recent refurbishment, and so when I finally got round to organising it, I decided to go for a proper long lunch in the best French tradition. When I lived and worked in France, like many companies, we finished at noon on Fridays, so after a scant few hours work (by the time you’ve gotten in and had a coffee and caught up with the office gossip, it’s 10am anyway) we’d clock off and spend an hour or two on a long, luxurious meal washed down with a few glasses of wine, to get the weekend off to a healthy start. My dining companion and I prepared ourselves to recreate this with the stoic forbearance of those who face a difficult task and must do it well.
We started with a glass of sparkling rose, and I chose the Potted Cromer Crab & Prawn Butter with buttered toast, while my dining companion picked a Warm Squid & Chorizo Salad. The salad was fabulously fresh and zingy, with crunchy chicory and orange dressing, but I lost my heart to the crab – it was rich, buttery and full of flavour, with a hint of spicy warmth.
Next up, the main event. I felt like I should really go for something summery, but I couldn’t resist the Duck Confit, with a bean and smoked garlic sausage cassoulet – I’m a real sucker for a good cassoulet, and this was certainly a good one. The duck was beautifully tender, and the richness of the cassoulet was nicely balanced by the tarbais beans. I couldn’t help soaking up the delicious juices with plenty of fresh bread and unsalted butter. My dining companion kept it simple with a classic Steak Frites, cooked just right and served with a café de Paris herb and mustard butter.
By now, of course, our hunger was thoroughly satisfied, but a long, slow lunch means that you can (usually) manage dessert as well. Although there were some scrumptious French dainties on offer, when I was told the dessert special was Sticky Toffee Pudding, I couldn’t resist – the French might have pastries all sewn up, but nobody can beat the English when it comes to proper pudding. Although I can’t quite put it on the same level as my mum’s (she reads this column, for one thing), it was still magnificent – and served with ice cream, not custard, as is only right and proper. My dining companion was on hand to sample the more French offerings, choosing a Summer Berry Savarin with Crème Chantilly – not my sort of thing but she pronounced it delicious.
We finished with coffees, and a fabulous sense of satisfaction. Nobody does indulgence quite like the French, and if you’re looking to lunch in style, this is certainly the place for you – on a sunny day, try and get one of the tables on their new terrace, and watch the world stroll by.
Images Copyright Sal Godfrey / Sal’s Kitchen