A few people have asked if I’d been yet so here is my quick review. Good things in no particular order: olives, loos, pretty bar area, friendly staff, seabass special was very nice.
Meh things: beef stroganoff (my Mum’s is much better), bread (bland white baguette), tasting board (one piece of salami, strangely warm mackerel, grated carrots, potted meats).
It was all very underwhelming and reminded me of back in the 80s when you went out for a birthday or date dinner and French food was considered stylish and better than British. I think we’ve all moved on from those days, but I don’t think this brasserie has. And the prices are high for food that many of us were bored of years ago and is pretty easy to pull together yourself.
Raymond Blanc irritated people at his launch with talk of the importance of local sourcing. It’s a sentiment I agree with, of course, but I saw very little evidence of it. It’s a chain, with central sourcing, and a set menu that the staff have to stick too. Bread doesn’t come from our local mill, nor does the beef or chicken from our local farms. I get that – its a big restaurant and it’s not always realistic to source everything locally. A special starter used Childwickbury Goats cheese, which is great, but not at nearly £8. A whole round of the cheese costs £4.50 so that’s a bit of a rip off.
I don’t think RB should play the “locally sourced” card with only one or two ingredients on the menu locally sourced. Just say what it is: a chain with a French theme for those stuck in the 80s.