So far in 2020 on my roast dinner adventures, I have survived rail replacement buses, Coronavirus, a Brexit roast, stabby council estates, storm Keeeeeeerrrah, getting wet several times, crossing a minor swamp and nearly entering a flat-roofed pub. This Sunday I went to Brasserie Blanc on Southbank. Could I survive the French?
Ahhh just think, I take all these risks for you, my dear readers. WASH YOUR FUCKING HANDS NOW. Encule.
And I didn’t even mention the ever-growing plethora of trashed yorkies, pissy gravy or stone-like potatoes, though I guess that is a given.
So why did I go to Brasserie Blanc for a Sunday roast? Well, I had two options for this Sunday gone, either solo-dining or somewhere central at 6pm. I’m not a fan of late roasts as this increases the chance of everything having been under a heat lamp all day, but I quite like my sister so I went for the late option.
Also it kind of fixed another problem – a embarrassing crisis of my humanity, even worse than the size of my willy. I am ashamed to admit this to you, but hell, you know plenty of other shite about me. This thing is – despite it being National Pie Week, I had not had a pie.
And the roast dinner menu at Brasserie Blanc offered me an opportunity for some minor form of redemption.
Yes, the beef came with a Cottage pie, the lamb came with a Shepherd’s pie and the pork came with a…bon-bon…yeah I don’t know what that is either.
I was enthused about how my fate came together – you may have noticed that after 140+ roast dinner reviews that I am longing to talk about something different and this little piece of ingenuity gave me that opportunity.
That said, I wasn’t especially hopeful. I thought Brasserie Blanc would be the kind of place that either did a secretly great roast – or a dreadful poncey roast. Also going at 6pm also carried risks, most notably of roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings that have been sat around far too long.
Where are the humans?
It was notably quiet inside. A large restaurant with many empty tables, yet we were seated unnecessarily close to the person on the nearest table – she definitely knows what I think of both Brexit and Coronavirus.
London as a whole was quiet – quite possibly the first time in my life that I’d been able to walk in a straight line on Oxford Street pavement. Are people too busy washing their hands to go out? You know, my hands are so clean from all the washing that they are turning whiter…wait…is this a plot from our evil far-right Nazi government to turn the country more white?
Our roasts didn’t take too long to arrive, around 10-15 minutes and yet again we had a chef who struggled to put everything on one plate.
There were two immediate issues – one that I’m used to which is not enough gravy, the other something that I’m not used to thinking – not enough vegetables. The above bowl was to share.
Where are the vegetables?
We ordered extra gravy, as de rigour and our waiter said we could have extra vegetables if we wanted too. We demurred – wanting more vegetables isn’t normally something within my thought spectrum (secretly I actually eat more than the average vegetarian).
Just having a quick look at the menu and it suggests that there was pumpkin puree. You can just about make it out on the photo. I don’t recall it being there. And why was my beef placed on top? It wasn’t like there was a lack of space on the plate.
The slices of carrot were a little buttery but otherwise unremarkable.
My notes state, “cabbage meh” and I cannot elucidate much upon that. Being a software engineer, I don’t have the natural flow to do the whole “unskilled” waiter thing of using the knife and spoon to fill my plate with cabbage, so I struggled to get much stringy cabbage on my plate by using just a fork. I wasn’t bothered.
Worse was to come. The cauliflower cheese was grey, mushy and not at all cheesy. This might have been more appropriate as hospital food in Wuhan. Yeah, we’d ordered extra vegetables by this point.
Where is the hospital?
You think this is going to be a shite roast, don’t you? You know, I was in Paris once, visiting a friend who has now long disappeared from my life because there was no Facebook back then so we were unable to keep in touch with how badly delayed the train was in our respective countries.
Anyway, I met up with his girlfriend (don’t get excited) whilst waiting for him to finish work – she spoke even less English than I spoke French, so we drank vodka and played chess.
I had learnt some new French though, so when my friend arrived after work, I said to him, “tu etes encule par un chien”, which by my understanding means “you have been fucked up the arse by a dog”. He laughed, she laughed, then I realised his girlfriend’s name was Chen and thought he misunderstood my French, so clarified that I meant he had been fucked up the arse by a dog. Maybe Facebook isn’t the reason we are no longer in touch.
The roast potatoes were superb. Honestly. With the extra bowl of potatoes and veg that our waiter had brought to us – waiting staff were all excellent I should add, and earned their service charge – we probably had about 5 or 6 roast potatoes each, and some of them were huge – yet all soft inside.
They could have been a little crispier in places, but they had that bobbly crispness to them that suggested a gentle chuffing. Fairly close to perfection.
Whilst the roast potatoes had been freshly made, the Yorkshire pudding had clearly been sat around from when China first admitted that Coronavirus was a thing – it simply wasn’t edible and you certainly couldn’t wipe your arse with it should you have forgotten to stockpile. I did read on Twitter this week that bread makes a handy substitute for toilet roll.
More more more, I want more gravy, I want more gravy.
She was singing about gravy, right? This wasn’t gravy like I would make it, or my mum would make it, or my grandma would make it, or anyone up north would make it – but for a proper chef gravy it wasn’t too bad.
It actually had some consistency with a flavour that varied between ale, wine and tomato. Which is possibly just my tastebuds.
The beef was ungenerous if you forget the cottage pie, but was tasty being heavily peppered and nice, if nothing overly exciting.
And finally, the cottage pie. I remember not liking cottage pie as a child, but then again I never liked pizza, eggs, steak, jacket potatoes, new potatoes…the paper recycling bin at school which surprisingly caught fire on numerous occasions.
So my point was that I cannot tell you whether this was good cottage pie or not, but I enjoyed it. The mince had a crumbly texture and the mashed potato on top was creamy. Not especially evincing flavour, this was more of a textural pleasure.
Where is the score?
Well, I was confused when the roast arrived and I was confused after I had finished eating it.
Before I set off, I thought that the roast dinner at Brasserie Blanc would either be really good or really shit. Part of it was really good, and part of it was really shit. And some middling.
I had positive vibes afterwards due to panic-eating the copious excellent roast potatoes – they were probably about two-thirds of what I consumed, so there was a fair glow.
Yet the yorkie was as shite as any I’ve ever had and the cauliflower cheese was grey and mushy. Everything else verged on the kind of alright.
There are some places where I’ve had a disappointing roast where I would still go back another time, say 24 The Oval – the roast dinner at Brasserie Blanc wasn’t overly disappointing yet it didn’t leave me with any intrigue about the menu on other days.
Not an easy one to score as there was a mixture of delight and disturb – I’m scoring it a 6.94 out of 10. My accomplice scored it around a 7.
Next weekend I’m going to Hull to see my mum to give her her five fucking pound birthday card. Don’t worry, I shall be back in time for a roast. Assuming we are not Wuhan’ed by then. Maybe it will all be on one plate for a change?
Brasserie Blanc, Southbank, Central London
Tube Lines: Bakerloo, Jubilee, National Rail, Northern
Fare Zone: Zone 1