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

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - DINING OUT -

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.

Jake Dar­ling. AN151355

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).

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