Once again, my wonderful mother-in-law invited my husband and I out for lunch, this time to celebrate my husbands birthday (how lucky am I to have a mother-in-law who loves eating out?!). She had recently eaten at Brasserie Blanc in Chichester with friends, and was keen for us to try it.
Since opening its doors in Chichester nearly a year ago, I have heard mixed reviews, not in relation to the food, but to the service and portion size, so it was with interest that we embarked on a taste of France in the centre of Chichester.
We were offered a choice of two menus, the Dine with Wine and the lunch menu. The Dine and Wine is a special offer choice of a 2 course meal for £11 or 3 courses for £13.45, and a glass of wine starting from £1.75 depending on the option of wine you decide upon. My mother-in-law decided on the Dine and Wine and my husband and I chose from the standard lunch menu.
The choices available would satisfy every palate and making the decision of what to have for a starter had me tossing a coin in my head; smoked mackerel or grilled squid, smoked mackerel or grilled squid….the squid won. As luck would have it my husband chose the mackerel so I was able to sample it anyway! The third starter we opted for was goats cheese salad. The starters were delivered in good time and were all delicious. The grilled squid and courgette with a parmesan and rouquette salad was bursting with flavour and delicately dressed with sweet balsamic and I couldn’t fault the dish.
For mains we decided upon Pork Belly on summer vegetables, liver (served medium rare) and sage mash with buttered cabbage and I chose North Sea cod on salted cod and a tomato sauce. Again we were not disappointed in our decisions. If I had one criticism with my meal, and was being really picky, the skin on my cod was not as crisp as I would have liked it and there was a lot of oil, which I’m assuming was from the salt cod, which made it incredibly rich and I was unable to finish all of it – which is unlike me! But they were personal preferences and if it had detracted from my meal I would have sent it back, however I didn’t and the food was of a high standard that you would expect from a restaurant of this calibre. The cod was cooked to perfection (barring the skin) and the sweetness of the tomato sauce complimented the flavour of the salt cod perfectly.
My husband’s liver dish was cooked to perfection, blushing pink with a creamy sage mash, and my mother-in-law was delighted that the slow cooked pork belly came with ultra crispy crackling, an all time favourite.
We did come to the conclusion though by espying other patrons dishes, that when choosing from the Dine and Wine menu, the portion sizes appeared to be somewhat smaller than dishes from the regular menu. Maybe this was where the complaints had come from as the two options from the main menu were more than satisfactory in size. So much so in fact, we declined the offer of dessert and went straight to the coffee.
As for the staff, I have to say that we received impeccable service from the moment we entered the restaurant to the moment we left. Our waiter was polite and personable with the right level of attentiveness. The plates were cleared quickly, the wobbly table leg was resolved as soon as it was brought to their attention, and the servers that we spoke to throughout our visit were all professional.
The restaurant itself provides a relaxed atmosphere, with décor to match – ironically in the same colours as my kitchen. In the centre of the restaurant is a display of enticing produce to purchase, including oils and vinegars, being two of my many weaknesses, however I did manage to resist getting the credit card out, probably as my husband was keeping on eye on me. Although the restaurant was full to bursting, we never felt overcrowded or had to raise our voices to be heard and due to the clever table planning, romantic couples would still be able to enjoy an intimate meal even with all the hustle and bustle going on around them.
The Dine and Wine menu is exceptional value for money and ideal for an impromptu get together with friends or a light lunch. The Summer Lunch Menu, although noticeably more expensive, is worth the money in my opinion. But it’s not just the food that your hard earned money is being spent on here, it’s the ambience and experience, which I felt was worth every penny – or every penny of my mother-in-law’s anyway!
Star rating: 9 out of 10