Sunday, 15 August 2010

Savoir-Fare: Gluten Free Menu at Brasserie Blanc

sa·voir-faire (sav'wär-fâr')
The ability to say or do the right or graceful thing.

[French : savoir, to know how + faire, to do.]

I have a huge hang up about being the awkward dinner companion, so when the discussion about where we should eat comes up, I tend to keep schtum and go with the majority, even if we end up at Pizza Express (Bosco Salad, hold the dough sticks, without fail). My mind can quickly search through it's restaurant Rollerdex and figure out if there is something for me on the menu, which there usuallly is. That said, the amount of times I have had little or no choice and ended up coughing up for a meal I didn't really want are countless.

Now and again, heaven smiles on me.

A friend from Italy had flown over to Leeds for the weekend, so the priority was to take her somewhere impressive yet laid back enough for our been-walking-round-Leeds-all-day-no-time-to-go-home-and-change attire. Malmaison? Too dressy. Bibi's? No way, she's Italian! Anthony's? Not in the mood for chicken face foam, thanks. So, we ended up at Brasserie Blanc. So long as my visitor was very happy with the choice, I didn't really care if all I got was a slab of cheese.

I was pleasantly surprised.

I went for cod fillet, samphire, mussle and saffron sauce for main course. Hang on, sauce? Have to check the sauce. Not wanting to draw attention to myself or be a pain, I sheepishly whispered to the waitress 'is the sauce wheat free?' I tell restaurants I'm allergic to wheat as it's much easier than saying 'intolerance'. They worry much more about meeting your requirements as soon as the allergy word crops up.

The waitress presented me with a gluten free menu. I couldn't believe it. The only time I'd been given a GF menu was at The Shoulder of Mutton in Kirkby Overblow (a GF pub run by a coeliac - check it out). For a chain restaurant to be this savvy was really impressive. There were TWELVE options for mains. Twelve! My cod fillet was one of them. No veggie option though. It is a French and therefore meat-loving restaurant afterall.

Dessert next which, for someone with as sweet a tooth as me, choosing wheat free can be a painful exercise. The options tend to be ice cream (which is awkward for you coeliacs) or cheese sans bisquits.

I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that the Rhubarb & Custard Cup I chose was one of the best desserts I have ever ever had. Sooo delicious. A perfect balance of tart and sweet rhubarb with gorgeous silky fresh vanilla custard and crunchy honeycomb. All served in a very glam champagne glass. I loved it so much, I am dead set on having it as the dessert at my wedding. Rhubarb is grown behind my flat so it would be rather fitting.

It's rare that I feel like a first class customer rather than a second class citizen at restaurants, so I'm very impressed with Brasserie Blanc. The beauty of the whole thing is, there are Brasserie Blancs located everywhere, so it's a handy place to remember if you're in unfamiliar territory.

Bon appetit!



  1. Where are you from Kimberley? I will see if I can find any places for you to eat.