THE HOME OF FRENCH COOKING
When I was a child the River Aire and its surrounding area was a dirty, smelly, spooky place littered with old factories and decaying mills. It was an area that everyone would avoid at any time of day or night.
Fast forward 50 years and its one of the most sophisticated, popular and must visit places for socializing and partying in the city. It is home to stylish bars, apartments and restaurants with the occasional classy boutique.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine as a tiny child that one day I would be chilling with a glass of something fizzy in the moonlight looking over a floodlit river! And yes you can do that. There’s even promenade decks and fairy lights in the trees.
Tucked away in Sovereign Street in a building that was once Victoria Mills is one of the city’s celebrity chef restaurants that’s become a “must place” to eat at.
Brasserie Blanc is known as the ‘home of French cooking’ and perfect for that special night out or celebration meal. It’s a totally unpretentious place but I did find the vaulted ceiling, cast iron pillar and exposed brickwork, rather dated and it took away any charm or chic that would enhance the experience.
However the fairy lit exterior over the river and the amazingly friendly staff made up for any shortfall in the décor.
To start our meal, with snow threatening outside, I decided on French Onion Soup. It came and was hot and flavoursome and tasted as the dish should – but if Blanc’s can’t get it perfect then who else can. And this was perfect.
My colleague chose the Terrine Maman Blanc. This was a coarse pork and chicken liver pate which was very tasty. She particularly liked the pickled vegetables, which further enhanced the pate, and declared the pear and apple chutney to be the best she’d ever tasted.
For her main course she opted for the Loch Fyne Salmon and Crab Fishcake. The outside was crispy and the inside very well blended so one could actually get the full flavours of both the fishes. It did come with an egg, which was a surprise and should have been mentioned on the menu in case some patrons were not egg tolerant! The dish had loads of leeks with it and a side order of tenderstem broccoli and pine nuts gave it a real healthy kick.
My Free Range Cornish Beef Burger was a disappointment though. It was quite mundane and I found the burger to be very course, tough and have little flavour to it. I asked for melted blue cheese with the dish but obviously that request was lost between the table and the kitchen. The French fries were very ordinary and not very hot but the mixed leaf salad I can only say was a real treat and looked too good to eat.
When it came to our desserts the choice was mesmerizing. My colleague, a bit of a chocoholic, decided on the Chocolate Torte and was not disappointed. It was warm and very light and not overly rich as this sweet can often be.
I went for La Coupe Café a rich coffee mousse with expresso sponge that really did smell and taste of real coffee. It came with ice cream, meringue and pistachios and an overdose of Chantilly cream which although delicious I had to scrape off as it drown the rich and wonderful flavour of the coffee.
Brasserie Blanc is a friendly type of establishment and its staff really do go the extra mile. The menu has something for everyone even if you like a simple diet or don’t want to eat French inspired dishes.
It is in a wonderful location that befits either glistening snow, sunny days or moonlight – in fact like everything French it has one extra ingredient – it’s a drop dead romantic place.
Brasserie Blanc, Victoria Mills, Sovereign Street, Leeds l
Tel: 0113 220 6060.
Open: Mon-Fri – 10.00am-10.pm; Saturday 12.00 – 11.30pm; Sunday 9.00am-9.00pm