St Albans is becoming very popular with celebrity restauranteers and the latest newcomer to the block is Raymond Blanc. Brasserie Blanc opens in St Albans on Verulam Road on Saturday 18 August 2012 and in anticipation of the opening they held a series of preview meals and invited locals to try it out, thus giving the staff plenty of real time and hands on training.
I was luck enough to be invited to enjoy a complementary meal with a friend with only drinks to pay for. We were offered a lunchtime slot at 12:15 and considering the last celebrity restaurant pre-opening meal I attended was packed and poorly staffed I was hoping to be surprised this time.
When my friend and I got there there were only a couple of other tables seated and every 20-25 minutes another table of diners arrived. Staggering the seating like this meant that the staff were able to look after us very well indeed. The style was very brasserie with long lines of tables, long bar and open view kitchen but was very contemorary and uncluttered.
The overall impression when we arrived was very welcoming and the staff were friendly, happy and eager to look after us. I asked if I could take photos and proceeded to document our visit.
We were encouraged to try things on the menu by our waitress, Star, who proceeded to look after us very well. The a la carte menu changes with each season. We tried the selection of nibbles - fresh bread and butter, olives, tapenade, balsamic reduction and a saffron mayonnaise.
and each ordered a starter. I had the Hot Smoked Loch Duart Salmon, pickled cucumber and horseradish cream
and Val had Crispy Goat's Cheese Parcel, French Beans and Tomato Chutney. The tomato chutnes was rich and homemade and would make a lovely chutney to buy to take home in the future!
The starters ranged in price from £4.95 to £8.50 and side dishes from £3.10 to £3.75 and the Maman Blanc's Miscellany of Salads was £6.90 however this would make a great starter for two with some fresh bread.
Main courses were chosen from a very varied list (prices from £9.50 to £18.20) including a pasta dish, toulouse sausage mash and onion gravy, grilled scallop skewer through the list of fine steaks including Chateaubriand for two (£52.00). I chose the olive Stuffed Chicken, Yellow Beans, Roast Tomato Sauce
and Val had Beef Stroganoff and Pilaf Rice.
We both enjoyed our main courses and even though we felt full at this stage were encouraged to try the dessert menu by our waitress! I had the Chocolate Crumble - crispy chocolate biscuits and three layers of chocolateness to satisfy and sweet tooth
Our total bill came to just over £74.00 but as we were invited to a complementary meal we only paid £3.10 each for our drinks!
We were not in a hurry and had a very leisurely lunch and were there just over two hours. I would certainly return to Brasserie Blanc and think it would make a great place for a special night out or the group of five girls (including myself) who eat out locally every couple of months.
I also suggested to the manager that it would be a great venue for a St Albans Blogger get together and they jumped at the suggestion. I received an e-mail the next day thanking me for my visit and looking forward to my return visit. I like that!