Brasserie Blanc, Cheltenham

A couple of weeks back I returned home to the shire to visit my folks and we decided to try the recently re-vamped ‘Brasserie Blanc’. In its former incarnation as ‘Le Petit Blanc’ Raymond’s chain of brasseries had been going steadily downhill for years. I remember poor service and increasingly patchy standards of cooking. A salient memory is that of my Dad biting down on a particularly rock hard vegetable and saying, “I’m all for al dente but this is taking the piss”. Quite.

We booked a table for Saturday night, arrived in good spirits and settled in for a spot of people watching. Cheltenham is very good for people watching. The dining room helps now too since being considerably de-cluttered; a huge relief as it was incredibly dated and a bit of a headache, with huge sculptural twisty things suspended on rails overhead like arboreal octopuses.

To start I chose the gravad lax. I wanted something light and it was just that, although a slice of bread wouldn’t have gone amiss. Not really a dish to judge a restaurant by though, considering it requires no cooking.

For the main course I chose sirloin and chips – classic brasserie fare. The steak at first looked a bit flaccid but was actually really good – excellent beefy richness and the level of umami which makes your salivary glands go into overdrive. The chips were less successful though, lacking any kind of crispness on the outside and borderline rubbery on the inside.

For dessert my mum kindly agreed to share the flaming baked alaska with me – a twinkly mound of whippy meringue encasing boozy sponge and vanilla flecked ice cream. The waitress set it down, poured some Grand Marnier over its mammoth proportions and attempted to set the thing on fire. As you can see however, it went a little bit wrong and I couldn’t stifle my giggles. The alcohol clearly hadn’t fully coated the beast and so she was basically just burning the side with a lighter.

My advice Raymond, is ditch the flames. I think my mum summed it up best with the phrase, “a bit TGI’s isn’t it?” We also witnessed a waitress crouching next to a table. Next thing you know there will be badges, braces and bibs. The food itself was a bit hit and miss, as was the service but overall, I had a brilliant meal because I was dining with my family. I really love how they have embraced the blog too; my Mum asked for a window table so that I could have good light for the photos.

The next morning after attempting to brush the hangover fuzz from my mouth, I commented that the baking soda toothpaste residing in the bathroom “tasted like arse” and my parents both immediately chimed in with, “it’s not supposed to be a culinary experience darling – don’t blog it.” I can’t say I’m not a little bit tempted.

Brasserie Blanc
The Queen’s Hotel
The Promenade
GL50 1NN
(there are other locations, see website for details)
Tel: 01242 266 800

Category: Restaurant Reviews 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Brasserie Blanc, Cheltenham”

  1. aforkfulofspaghetti

    Ha ha! Oh dear – looks like another restaurant fail then, basically…

    Next time – Royal Well Tavern?

  2. Lizzie

    Oh no. Flabby chips are not good! That baked alaska was funny, though I was under the impression that all baked alaskas are flaming.

  3. Kerri

    The gravalax looks good, the chips less so :( So disappointing when the basics aren’t right.

    Am loving the comedy baked alaska though!

  4. James

    I’d been wondering whether to go back. I watched it being re-vamped (great kitchen chop opposite). Used to like it years ago as PB. Nice champagne cocktails……

  5. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    That baked alaska does look good though! Need to make that soon!

  6. Gourmet Chick

    So cute how your Mum asked for a table by the window – what a dear!

  7. Helen

    A forkful of spaghetti – the Royal Well Tavern most definitely needs to be tried, yes.
    Lizzie – No i don’t think so. I think they are sometimes finished with a blowtorch but obviously not at the table.
    Kerri – I had to have it.
    James – Yeah it was good years ago and then I really don’t know what happened.
    Jenn – I’ve never made one either although I’m trying to lose a bit of weight so its probably not a good idea right now!
    Gourmet Chick – It was very thoughtful of her, yes :)

  8. Jan

    Oh dear, those chips look like they need a life support machine. As for the baked Alaska – bit Fawlty Towers!

    I have recently had cause to write to M Blanc re his ‘Maison Blanc’ range of patisserie which he is selling in Waitrose. His ‘crumble aux pommes et mures’ were little squares of nastiness. They were made with margarine! I wrote and received a corporate reply, but I’m afraid I won’t be leaving it there………

  9. Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    I had a lucky escape then. My father-in-law wanted to take us to one in Milton Keynes. Re the waitress crouching by a table, I read that that technique increases the tips! Some kind of subliminal body language that makes the customer feel more positive towards the server…

  10. James

    @ Jan – Just confirms what I always thought – mass production and quality can never go together.

  11. Karrie

    I’m glad that other avid bloggers have conversations like the ones in this blog….I’ve been told “Don’t blog that”….”Don’t take my photo, I’m not ready for the blog”…and my favourite…”That’s blog worthy.”

    Cheltenham’s a great place…..lovely actually.

  12. Ollie

    Hilarious story about the basked Alaska. It’s sad that Britain lacks a chain of really good French bistros. Agree with you on baking soda toothpaste – pure arse.

  13. Kang

    I have very fond childhood memories of flamin’ baked alaskas, I believe the result of which is now my permanent pot belly.

    woo hoo :D

  14. powerfulpierre

    I dare not ask how much thay meal must have cost probably the 15 eiro munu in France, and I used to quite admire Raymond Blanc

  15. powerfulpierre

    my keyboard is french and obviously threwa wobbily, so in English this time, I dare not ask how much that meal must have cost probably the 15 euro menu in France but the French would not have accepted it even at that price

  16. gen.u.ine.ness

    Sadly its not just his brasseries which are going downhill – I visited Le Manoir earlier this year and things were in shambles. These days Raymond is too busy filming and enjoying his celebrity status to actually show up in his own kitchen. The prices are breathtaking too..

  17. dave brunock

    sadly didn’t get a chance to sample the menu, at cheltenhams braserie blanc. went in to book table,for two was rudley ushered out by a rather snooty member of staff,who thought a staff meeting more important

  18. Millie

    Hahaha. Oh my god people, get a life! life is not just about the quality of chips and service!
    maybe that’s really hard to understand, but Raymond is not going to adjust his prices IN UNITED KINGDOM to the prices IN FRANCE, just because he’s french. seriously, get a life and maybe – for a change – try to cook something at home.

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