Top quality food in a relaxed environment, Greg Bedson would recommend the Brassiere Blanc in Farnham
Having long been a fan of French cooking, when I discovered a Brasserie Blanc was opening in Farnham, I was very eager to dine there and my high pre-expectations were pleasantly surpassed.
Recently in the news himself for taking on 21 apprentices across the UK, Raymond Blanc’s latest brasserie is the 19th of its kind in the UK and all of the dishes have been created by the French chef. Some of the dishes will change according to the seasons and as with every other Brasserie Blanc, Clive Fretwell, the group’s executive chef, oversees the menu.
The restaurant is set in a three-storey listed building in the heart of Farnham and provides seating for 100 diners inside and a further 40 on the al fresco terrace. As for the décor, the original architectural features combined with the sophisticated and modern interior, gives Brassiere Blanc a unique feel.
The warm welcome my guest and I received from the moment we walked through the door, suggested that the staff were genuinely happy to be working there and this mood did not alter throughout the course of the evening.
Considering it was a Tuesday, the restaurant was fairly busy and although most of the tables were occupied, it did not feel overly crowded nor did the staff seem too rushed to provide attentive service.
As for the food, when I saw burgundian snails (£7.80) were offered as a starter, I decided it would be a good opportunity to try something new, even if I was slightly apprehensive.
“Just think of it as eating mushrooms,” the waitress assured me, “and try not to picture the creatures that you find in your garden.”
The texture of the snails was actually very similar to cooked mushrooms and although the dish was perhaps slightly too garlicky for my liking, I would happily order the same again.
My guest decided to play it safe and unsurprisingly as a lover of fish, opted for the hot smoked salmon (£8.50). Presented on a bed of cucumber, the salmon was cooked to perfection and my guest said that it was possibly the nicest fish she had ever tasted.
The quality of the starters had set the bar extremely high and as the evening wore on, we did not feel as though the standard had slipped. The wine -a picpoul de pinet (£21.95) – was so easy to drink, my only regret is that I didn’t order a second bottle. As for the steak – a staple dish on so many menus, yet easy to get wrong- I ordered the 8oz sirloin with pepper sauce (£20.00) and it was simply exquisite.
Not being a meat eater and having had fish for her starter, my guest opted for the sole vegetarian option of French onion and gruyere tart (£11.30).
Desserts – we went for the steamed lemon sponge pudding (£5.50) and the apple and almond crumble (from the set menu) – generous portions and extremely satisfying at the end of the meal.
The service we received throughout the evening was exceptional and the waitress’s knowledge of the menu really added to the experience. The only criticism I have for Brasserie Blanc is perhaps there is not enough choice to truly cater for vegetarians.
As for value, Brasserie Blanc is fairly competitive and the set menu (£16.45 for three courses), which changes on a monthly basis, offers a good variety. Brasserie Blanc also has a lunch menu (£13.95 for three courses), a breakfast menu and serves roast dinners on a Sunday (£13.80); I think I may have to visit again soon.