WE were keen to see what Raymond Blanc’s chain offering ‘authentic French flavours, guided by the seasons’ would be like in the evening, having been impressed by their set-price menu when lunching here while Christmas shopping.

Once again, we were not disappointed, although at first the restaurant seemed strangely empty.

Then we realised that diners who had nipped in before 6.30pm, taking advantage of the cheaper menu to eat before going out for the evening, had just left.

The a la carte menu offers classic French cuisine – if you’ve never tried escargots (snails) or steak Tartare (raw beef) then this could be for you – along with dishes using UK produce and plenty of fish, mainly from the Shetland Isles.

My husband began with a morteau sausage salad, £7.50, chunks of smoked sausage on potato salad topped with a poached egg which he said was served just right, with the yolk running out as he cut into it.

Having chosen fish for my main I went instead for one of les classiques, a cheese souffle, £6.50. Served dusted with powdered cheese, it was piping hot, with each mouthful as light as air and full of flavour, enhanced by dipping it in the little pot of mature Cheddar sauce. Both portions were starter-sized but proved very substantial, so we did not mind that by now the restaurant had filled up and we had time to catch our breath while the young servers attended to everyone.

My main course, hake fillet served on poached Shetland mussels, squid, new potatoes, wilted kale and saffron sauce, was equally good. The hake just fell apart at the touch of a fork, while the roasted skin made a great crunchy, salty contrast. At £15.50, the dish includes enough that you do not need to order a vegetable side with it.

My husband had fallen for the moules frites, £13.90, ordering a green leaf salad with them which he said struck the only sour note as the dressing was a little too sharp for his taste.

For pudding we shared a plate of crepe Suzette, £11.90, little pancakes served with orange slices and a sticky sharp Cointreau sauce and ice cream. Having the dish served traditionally, with the sauce set alight at the table, brought our evening out to a really lovely end.

As we were driving we had decided not to order wine and had drinks before our meal, and water with. These and coffee to round things off brought the final bill to £77.30. You could easily pay a great deal more to enjoy food like this.

Brasserie Blanc
6-12 Queen Square


01225 303860
Hours: Monday-Friday 8.30am-10.30pm, Saturday until 11pm, Sundays until 9pm