The French chef Raymond Blanc was born in the eastern region of France between Burgundy and the Jura mountains. Today he is one of the most respected chefs in Britain, he taught himself entirely and also taught chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, Michael Caines and Marco Pierre White.
Raymond opened the first of Le Petit Blanc in 1996, two years later he opened Cheltenham. This is Cheltenham’s busiest restaurant with loyal locals and new faces enjoying ………recipes…..
This was the first of the Brasserie Blanc’s to be refurbished as it is the most popular of the twenty restaurants. It has now transformed into a spacious and cosy environment to enjoy time with friends whether it is for food or drinks. I caught up with Raymond and the manager of Cheltenham, Emma to discuss the changes and what is to come.
This is the first time that Raymond has seen the restaurant since its refurbishment, and as we sit at our table, he is looking behind, thinking hard about something. He doesn’t like something, you can tell by the look on his face. He turns to me and says something is wrong here, it’s not right. He is right, the beautiful arches that have been added to the wall could do with the gaps filling. So in reply I suggest more arches or big pieces of art work as the little pictures are lost. With full excitement he beams at me and says exactly!!!
So what were they trying to achieve with this new refurbishment? ‘We wanted it more relaxed, not so formal’ Raymond tells me, ‘we have got rid of the table cloths and the ties our waiters wear’ It’s a cooler colour compared to the French rouge that once covered the walls. The centre seating that used to preside over the main dining area has gone and now more tables fill the restaurant. Around the bar area are long benches and comfy chairs with a rustic charm perfect for the Cotswolds. Emma explains to me ‘It was masculine, it needed a refresh. We wanted our loyal customers to return but to also welcome a newer younger audience.’
It is a lot brighter in the restaurant with lighting to set the mood for a relaxed atmosphere. They also have a wonderful new feature at Petit Blanc. For those cheese and wine lovers this is right up your street. A new Fromage Bar, a place where you can go have a glass of red and some cheese to match the palate.
But these aren’t the only changes made to the Brasserie, as Emma explains we are now open for breakfast from 8.30, so you can join us for breakfast, a coffee, lunch, a glass of wine and dinner. We have kept our set menu of 2 course for £14 with wine. Raymond interjects ‘We are bringing back historical recipes that are favourites, but we have put a new spin on these old dishes’ Along with Clive his executive Head Chef, they have together over the last 30 years……….
So what does Raymond love so much about Cheltenham? ‘The Architecture’ he says ‘The loyalty of our customers and the racing, there is so much going on here. But it would not be what it is today without the manager Emma. She has been with me since day one and she understands Cheltenham’s needs. We provide affordable, fresh in-house food that is free range and local. He entrusts Emma to create his vision for a place for every day dining, describing Brassie Blanc as the fabric of the Community.
As this is the re-launch of the restaurant, it is the perfect time to introduce the new Autumn Menu. As Raymond knocks back a few oysters, he tells me I must try the Morteau Sausages. These are amazing!
It was a pleasure to meet Raymond and Emma, their vision was well received. The gorgeous new look to this well-known Cheltenham place will not disappoint. Whether you are meeting the girls for a drink and maybe now a slice of cheese, or having lunch and dinner, this new relaxed atmosphere is warm and modern.