Brasserie Blanc in Threadneedle Street recently enjoyed a refurbishment. But has it made this outpost of Raymond’s chain worth travelling for?
Raymond’s surname is an obvious point of departure here. That kind of branding has worked for The White Company, after all. Why not a Blanc canvas?
Or, for something pseudo-Gallic, how about a clinically tiled interior recalling Ken Russell’s preposterous surgical convent in The Devils?
But it was not to be. After skipping down the glossy black of a wet City street in early autumn my eyes are not met by virgin porcelain.
Neither do my feet sink into a fluffy white sheepskin, nor my arms become burdened with a snowy Persian cat (carefully selected for its attraction to strangers).
Instead the beige and brown scheme is the result of an attempt to staple basic minimalism (from head height) onto the remnants of French bistro.
Curiously the cavernous space manages cosy in a drizzle, but it’s hardly a statement to turn heads.
I have to thank the staff here for giving me the experience of being served a dish that was inedible – a first while reviewing for The Wharf.
No hyperbolic subjectivity, my dessert (some sort of summer berry parfait, apparently) arrived like The Titanic’s nemesis, a great clod of ice ready to sink the restaurant in my eyes.
Unfortunately staff failed to bring the miniature Black And Decker chainsaw and ice axes necessary to split it into mouth-sized pieces.
So I couldn’t eat. It looked okay and staff assured me it would have been removed from the bill.
Maybe that would have been fine if the other dishes served had shone.
But Maman Blanc’s salads, a disparate collection of ingredients dumped on an oyster plate, left me thinking the matriarch would be rather grateful I’d swiped her supper.
And although steak tartare looked pretty with striped condiments atop, their flavour was muted as if chewed though an old jumper.
Good news here – the Maris Organic Syrah 2013 was a big red balloon in the mouth and went some way to dulling the disappointment of the food.
And, against the odds, our waitress swam like a salmon in the face of adversity to rescue a second star from beige depths.
So, in short, go for a glass of wine and stay just long enough to see it turn to dregs.
Expect to pay around £18 for a main.
Brasserie Blanc, 60 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8HP, 020 7710 9440, brasserieblanc.com.