Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brasserie Blanc, Tunbridge Wells

Five Ways,
Lime Hill Road,
Tunbridge Wells TN1 1LJ map

I'm quite a big fan of Raymond Blanc, having eaten and cooked at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, and received a signed copy of Blanc Vite, which has some great veggie recipes in it, for my birthday.

I'd heard and read some very mixed reviews of Blanc Brasserie, but I was keen to try it out for myself so, on a bright and sunny Saturday lunchtime, we popped along to give it a go. As it was such a nice day we decided to sit outside on the shaded patio.

They offer a set lunch menu called "Dine with Wine" which I decided to try. This offers two courses for £11.50 or three courses for £14 each with a glass of wine. My wife decided that she didn't fancy anything from there and decided to order from the a la carte.

For the first course I had Smoked Potato Croquettes with Cranberry Dip. The croquettes were very nice and had a deep smoky flavour. They didn't, however, go with the dip at all. My wife had Maman Blanc’s Miscellany of Salads which was a selection of different salads dotted around a plate.

It looked really pretty and some of the salads were very tasty, especially the tomato one, which had a dressing that was made to be soaked up with the remaining bread on the table.

For my main course I had a Goats' Cheese and Almond Risotto. It tasted fine, but the rice was overcooked giving it a "rice pudding" texture rather than the al-dente crunch that risotto should have. It also appeared that the chef had left the skin on the goats' cheese as I found two strips of something that I hope was the cheese skin. I dread to think what else it might have been. I pointed it out to the waiter and he looked as mystified as me, but I heard nothing more about it.

My wife had Salmon Fillet and Chips which she said was really nice.

The service was friendly, but a bit slow between the courses. After about a fifteen minute wait after the starters we had to enquire as to the whereabouts of our mains, but apart from that it was fine.

Overall, the lunchtime offer was reasonably good value for money, even with the overcooked risotto. The a la carte is a bit on the pricy side - starters are around £6 and mains average out around £13 -£15, although the only vegetarian main was a bargain at £7.50!

Brasserie Blanc wasn't as bad as some of the reviews I've read have suggested, but it could be better. If the a la carte menu was more reasonable, we might be tempted to go back one evening, but as it is, the quality of the menu, in my opinion, just doesn't justify the cost.

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