Leeds’ foodie scene is a hot topic at the moment - bars and restaurants are popping up quicker than you can say “eeh by gum”. But what about the originals - the older, more ‘mature’ haunts? It might be a chain (hear me out, fellow lovers-of-independents) but move over newbies, Brasserie Blanc is worth a look-in when you’re searching for somewhere delicious and a little bit fancy to dine in Leeds. Bon appétit!
Venue & Atmosphere
Granted, it’s not going to get tons of footfall being sat on the riverside behind KPMG and away from Briggate's droves, but that didn't dampen Brasserie Blanc's buzzing atmosphere. Self-described as ‘the home of real French cooking’ you can expect authentic touches to Raymond Blanc’s Leeds spot, which celebrated its 10th birthday in October last year. Exposed brick, charcoal black walls and vaulted ceilings transport you to a chateaux wine cellar - filament bulbs will satisfy the hipsters among us too. Looking beyond winter, the outdoor terrace could make it a solid choice for a lazy summer afternoon.
Food & Drink
Flipping through the drinks book, there’s plenty to tempt you to some weeknight bevvies. I ordered the Elderflower Collins which was a magic mix of Hendrick’s gin, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice and Fever Tree tonic. It’s a short-but-sweet cocktail list, however, still special enough to tempt you from a standard glass of wine.
The food menu changes twice a year, with the next refresh planned in March. You can choose from the a la carte or the set menu, with the latter offering more budget-friendly options for early-evening diners - two courses for £11.95 with the option of adding a third course for £3.50 (dessert is a must, but more on that in a mo).
We ate from the a la carte menu which gives more choice if you’re looking for authentic French favourites (snails, anyone?). We ordered the Crispy Beef with Soy & Citrus Glaze (£7.95) which was zingy and light, not even slightly like its sticky and sickly Chinese takeaway cousin. We also had the Wild Mushrooms on Toasted Sourdough (£7.95), which came with a runny poached egg - if you won't do it for the flavour, at least do it for the Instagram!
Feeling smug after our posh starters, our eyes widened when out came Duck Leg Confit with Black Cherry Sauce (£16.95) and 8oz Lamb Rump with Minted Peas and Dauphinoise Potatoes (specials board, £21.95). The duck was tender with crispy glazed skin - ridiculously delicious - and the accompanying seasonal grilled veg was the perfect side (along with more dauphinoise…). I also ordered a cheeky glass of Rioja to tie it all in. You might expect portion sizes to suffer when prices creep up but don’t worry - you do get plenty for your pound!
We were beyond stuffed but a quick undo of the old jeans button and we were ordering dessert. The Normandy Apple Tart with Salted Caramel Ice Cream (£6.75) caught our eye, along with the Pistachio Soufflé and Rich Chocolate Ice Cream (£6.90) - both a solid 9 (come round anytime, Raymond). They looked so good I almost forgot to take an envy-inducing photo before diving face-first into them both.
I can’t say Brasserie Blanc was top of my list with Leeds having so many cool and quirky places opening up weekly, but having now had a taste of this French fancy I’ll be dropping hints when date night comes around. Yes, it’s pricey but you can always go for the set menu which is great value, and they’ve even just introduced BYOB (wine) on Tuesdays - winning!