Fine dining for ladies who lunch
>> ENTERTAINMENT: GRILLS & GUITARS RETURNS TO MALTINGS Laura Nightingale enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with a friend over a meal inspired by Raymond Blanc We’re here to help our industry. SEE PAGE 24
FOR me, meeting a girlfriend for a leisurely lunch is a rarity ( as much as we wish it were a daily routine).
So it was time to clear our schedules and make the most of the opportunity for an overdue catch up, and we chose French restaurant Brasserie Blanc as our lunchtime hotspot.
Set in the historic market town of Farnham, half way up the quaint Castle Street, the gorgeous Georgian building was buzzing with diners sipping Sauvignon blanc and nibbling on chunks of crusty baguette dipped in olive oil.
The bar is furnished with comfy wing- backs and leather armchairs while the classy dining area includes chic booths. The decor is elegant and simple and the pair of us settled in by ordering a bottle of house white (£ 17.95).
Specialising in authentic, sustainable and seasonal French cuisine inspired by Raymond Blanc, the menu features snails, steak tartare and beef Bourgignon.
We were not in the mood for a light lunch and making the most of our seldom outing, we opted for three courses from the à la carte menu. With around 10 starters from which to choose I opted for chilli and ginger squid (£ 7.40), while my friend was swayed by the potted Cromer crab (£ 8.50).
The service is unhurried, yet even though the restaurant was full our waitress never allowed our glasses to be empty.
My fish starter arrived as pretty as a picture. The rolled up, perfectly cooked squid was seasoned with fresh coriander, roquette and curly endive, and sat beautifully on soft strips of grilled courgette and aubergine soaked in olive oil. With a smoked paprika and red pepper dressing on the side, the dish is full of moreish, complementary flavours.
Friends with the same tastes, we both ordered 8oz fillet steak (£ 23.90), cooked blue, for our mains.
Served on warm oblong plates with a half grilled tomato, the thick seared hunks took centre stage among our vegetable accompaniments.
Blackened and seasoned, each fillet is cooked exactly as requested.
The steak is juicy, lean and lip- smackingly good, and my friend smothered hers in a creamy Roquefort sauce to make each mouthful even more decadent.
Our separate sides of French beans (£ 3.90), dauphinoise potato (£ 3.10) and house coleslaw salad (£ 2.60) were foolproof accessories to complete the delicious meat feast.
Feeling rather full after our bottle of wine and two great courses, we were undaunted from taking a peek at the dessert menu and ordering one each. Fantastic classics and summer puds are available including lemon tart, pistachio soufflé and baked Alaska.
We were tempted by the summer berry savarin (£ 6.50) and sorbet selection (£ 4.50) – scoops of exotic mango, refreshing lemon and intense raspberry are crammed into a tall glass and served with a crispy butter wafer.
The kirsch and vanillasoaked savarin is so light and fluffy but very rich. Yet the vibrant pulpy strawberries, raspberries and coulis are a heavenly combination with a spoon of Chantilly cream.
Our belated meet- up was far from the cappuccino and muffin we are used to from our trusty coffee shop, and at Brasserie Blanc we enjoyed a relaxed, bountiful and fabulous festival of French food and drink.
However, as much as we would love to be ladies who lunched every day of the week, it is probably best we kept it occasional for the sake of our wallets and our waistlines.
Laura’s three- course meal for two with a bottle of wine cost around £ 105. To book a table, call Brasserie Blanc in Farnham on 01252 899970.
Brasserie Blanc is set in a Georgian building in Castle Street, Farnham.
A perfectly cooked 8oz fillet steak k and the refreshing sorbet selection ( inset).