Wednesday, 25th July 2018 – Brasserie Blanc, Milton Keynes
This was an odd one… We tried to eat out twice during the week with the intention of testing new places and ended up failing completely on both occasions and having to fall back on old favourites instead. Sometimes it just all goes awry. On the Wednesday night we were due at a gig as part of the International Festival in Milton Keynes, and wanted to grab dinner somewhere beforehand. Lynne was quite keen to try a new-ish Indian place in the Hub, the Maaya Indian Kitchen and Bar, and so we met up in good time, trundled along to the venue, and were met by a notice saying that exceptionally they would not be opening until late for reasons they didn’t specify. We didn’t want to have to bolt our dinners, and anyway what were we going to do in the interim if we did wait for them to open? We shelved the idea for another day, and instead went to an old tried and trusted favourite, Brasserie Blanc. I’m not normally a fan of chain restaurants, finding most of them to be heavy on lack of atmosphere, and forever scrimping on the ingredients to maximise their profits, but I make an exception for Brasserie Blanc (and for La Tasca).
The staff at the Brasserie are lovely, and although we probably only go in two or three times a year, they remembered us. We were shown to a seat under the air conditioning unit, which was the only place to be when the temperature was at the level we’ve been experiencing since the end of June. The specials board on the way in said they had caipirinhas, so that was what we went for while we studied the menu to decide what to eat.
It being hot, then fish seemed to be the way to go, at least for me. A fish soup was calling me; it most emphatically had my name on it. The soup itself was everything you might want in a French-style fish soup. I would have liked more cheese, personally, though there were plenty of croutons. I’d also have liked more aioli, but that’s just because I’m greedy for anything that’s in any way similar to mayonnaise.
Lynne opted for the beef tartare, which comes as a starter portion or a main, depending very much on how hungry you are. It seemed to be enough for her, anyway. I was permitted a forkful, and it was perfectly decent. I have eaten more impressive beef tartares over the years, but there was nothing wrong with this one, and of course it also cost a lot less than some of those mightily impressive versions. The garnish wasn’t too heavy, but there was enough of it. The toast was pretty good too!
The wine list is mostly French, which won’t surprise you I’m sure. We found a Côtes de Provence wine, a very pleasant Mirabeau Rosé (which would cost about 1/3rd of the restaurant price if you bought it direct from a supplier), a fairly standard markup level in the UK. It’s a syrah (60%), grenache (35%) and cinsault (5%) blend, and it went down a treat in the summer weather.
I went for another of the specials, as we’d got lucky with the caipirinhas, despite the fact that apparently it was the first time the barman had been asked to make one! The food choice I went for was a large piece of cod fillet, cooked perhaps just a little over what it should have been, but not to the point of spoiling it. It was accompanied by some mussels, just a scattering, and several pieces of squid, again perhaps just a little overcooked. The white wine sauce was lovely, and the black venus rice was good, with an al dente bite and had soaked up all the flavours very nicely.
Neither of us could manage a dessert, so we paid up at that point and got ready to head off to Campbell Park for our evening’s entertainment. We’d eaten a perfectly decent meal, and it had set us up for the gig just right.