'I am often asked what defines Brasserie Blanc. Well, if Le Manoir is a delicate waltz then the Brasseries are a lively can-can. The brasserie is not about refined haute cuisine. Instead, it's a place for relaxed enjoyment where I can offer you simple great food.'
My Love of Brasserie Food by Raymond
In many ways simple food is far harder to cook than complex food. A notable example in Brassserie Blanc is Boeuf Bourguignon.
Now, most people have at some point eaten a beef stew that is made with red wine. I have eaten many examples; some are engrained in my memory. If truth be known most not for the right reasons.This simple dish has had many crimes committed in its name. Yet it can be sublime!
Good produce and a good recipe are not enough. Bourguignon needs - demands - patience. It takes time. There are no short cuts. If done correctly, the pieces of meat are whole but can be cut with a spoon; the sauce is thick but not sticky; the taste is rich but not overpowering, and the aroma instantly makes you feel warm inside. Real French food. That's what I'm trying to achieve with Brasserie Blanc.
We have other recipes from my childhood, such as the Salade Composée or, as we call it, Maman Blanc’s Miscellany of Salad; grated celeriac with mustard mayonnaise, cucumber and dill, beetroot with balsamic vinegar, chicory with blue cheese, Jerusalem artichoke and chives. The name of the dish stays the same with every season, but I change the ingredients. In fact, the Brasserie menu changes four times a year and ‘specials’ are changed, often daily, to reflect what’s at its best seasonally and locally.
I have files of recipes, thousands probably, developed over the years for Le Manoir or from memory, or sometimes when I have been somewhere and tasted something wonderful.
I share these recipes with my chefs to inspire the Brasserie menus. The classic dishes are all mine, with the strong French regional influences of my youth. The more local and seasonal specials we hone with the skill and experience of my team, which is led by Clive Fretwell, who I trained. Indeed, Clive has worked with me for 23 years.