Thursday, 23 December 2010

Brasserie Blanc, Leeds

I have eaten here several times. The food has always been on the good side of acceptable and the service among the very best to be found in Leeds. It was for this latter reason that my work colleagues and I chose it for our Christmas Lunch. Service didn't disappoint. The food was universally well received. Here's what I had:
Hot Smoked Salmon with piccalilli

Roast Turkey

Apple and Almond Crumble

The Salmon was delightful, I really enjoyed the pickled vegetables and the fish was perfectly cooked. The Turkey meat was nice and moist with a good flavour, but some of the vegetables tasted as if they had been roasted in rather tired oil. 

The crumble though was irritating. Apple crumble with custard can be sublime. The merging of the fruit and the topping in a caramelised gloop is a great joy. Crumble in restaurants with aspirations to quality can be very different. It is quite clear that this was constructed in the kitchen by placing stewed apples in the bowl, then placing pre-toasted crumble mix on top, then placing a wholly inadequate tiny blob of ice cream on top. Nothing about this dish came together as a crumble should. I had exactly the same construction of crumble at the Box Tree once (though smaller, and in a ring), and it has a Michelin star.  Restaurants must be aware that this is not what people want in a crumble. I think they do it for their convenience, but I am afraid that this is one dish that is ruined by the restaurant kitchen's method. The school canteen does it better. Incidentally, it wasn't sweet enough either. No-one else had the crumble. The other menu choices looked OK, especially the Creme Brulee, which was in a similar shallow dish, with acres of brittle caramel on top.

The coffee was unfortunately no better. The bar contained a gleaming espresso machine, that smelt as though it would produce something memorable, but unfortunately those of us on the £25.50 Christmas Lunch menu could only have filter coffee from one of those flask dispensers you find at conferences. It was stale and not warm enough. An espresso, or similar,  to end the meal would have been the touch of quality the chain aims for.

Coffee was accompanied by the world's tiniest mince pie, seen here next to a colleague's little finger, included for scale. It was quite nice because it was 90% pastry, and I don't like mincemeat.

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