Anybody unfortunate enough to be in earshot of my real life ramblings on a regular basis will know that a professional soufflé has been on my to-eat list for quite some time now. Every time I watch the failures flop out onto the plates on Come Dine With Me or marvel at the tall, aerated masterpieces dished up on MasterChef, my yearning for a soufflé gets stronger.
So when a glorious, glorious four-day weekend rolled around and I went on the hunt for somewhere to eat for me and mine around the Knutsford neck of the woods, I knew Brasserie Blanc was a must.
Here is where I sunk my spoon into not one but two of the most majestic soufflés I ever did lay my eyes on. The first was the stunning BB Cheese Soufflé (£6.95) from the starters, which was crunchy and golden on top with a molten, Coastal Cheddar sauce centre. The second was the Pistachio Soufflé (£6.90) I had for dessert that was being spooned into my mouth whether my bursting stomach liked it or not.
Both interpretations were baked to complete perfect and were as light as you like but the latter from the Brasserie Blanc dessert menu was my winner. A delicate icing sugar veil cut the egg-iness of the steaming pudding, while an overriding dose of sweet nuttiness seduced both tongue and nostrils. Quite simply perfect and incredibly generous in portion size. (Keep scrolling for snaps of my pistachio paradise in a ramekin!)
Described as an upscale chain brasserie serving a classically French menu, this eatery is the brainchild of acclaimed celebrity chef, Raymond Blanc. In an interview I read on his site ahead of our visit there, he said: “I am often asked what defines Brasserie Blanc” and went on to beautifully articulate that “if Le Manoir is a delicate waltz then the Brasseries are a lively can-can”. I bloody love a good metaphor and I’d say this one was pretty accurate.
I have to admit, the atmosphere was a tad muted upon our arrival. However at the very end of the bank holiday weekend when the rest of the world were likely nursing hangovers or debilitating back to work blues, this was understandable. The can-can might not have been in full flight that rainy Monday evening but the potential energy was palpable in our stylish-but-rustic surroundings.
The quality of food and the moans and groans of delight we were all letting out as each course came out were enough to distract from the hush. Following our audible celebrations of the cheese soufflé and a pat on the back for the Chicken Liver Parfait with Truffle Butter and Red Marmalade (£6.95), I imagine the intimate dinner date adjacent to us weren’t best pleased when our beautifully presented mains arrived.
The Lamb Tagine (£18.95) was particularly pretty in its authentic clay pot and proved to be an aromatic medley of slow-cooked spiced lamb, golden sultanas, Medjool dates and an almond & pistachio couscous. Not the dish I ordered for myself but perhaps my favourite in the end. Around the table we also ordered the Steak Frites “Complet” (£19.95), the Boeuf Bourguignon (£16.95) and the Grilled Smoked Salmon Fillet with a Tomato Hollandaise sauce (£13.90).
The steak and the smoked salmon both came served with French fries and were perfectly tasty. Perhaps not the most ground-breaking of gastronomic endeavours but skillfully cooked and delicious nonetheless. What was impressive was the melt-in-your mouth Boeuf Bourguignon that came accompanied by silken mashed potato, salty lardons, baby onions and a rich, robust gravy. The perfect manifestation of the fresh, seasonal and home-cooked fare we are promised on the Brasserie Blanc website.
As I mentioned previously, the final round presented that perfect Pistachio Soufflé that was salivated over by all but one around the table. From the alluring list of puddings we also chose the Mixed Berry Pavlova (£5.90) and the Chocolate Mousse Cup with Cherry Compote (£7.50). I’d say the bountiful soufflé is ideal for sharing with two spoons but the more modest Pavlova is just right for one. The conical Chocolate Mousse Cup was rather unusual and definitely best enjoyed solo by somebody who has a more enduring sweet tooth.
In terms of beverages, we gave the Brasserie Blanc repertoire a good run for its money, dipping our toes in the soft drinks, hot drinks, wine list and bespoke cocktail menu. Our host for the evening was willing and able to help us select a nice white for the table with our preferences in mind, while I managed to pick out a Disaronno Sour (£7.25) in a matter of minutes. I don’t take much persuading when I spot my old favourite on the list. We have since also heralded the hot chocolate as one of the best we’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping through and you know how much I love my cocoas.
So all in all, an absolute triumph and somewhere I’m sure we’re going to be adding into our most-frequently-visited for the foreseeable future!