We’ve had three previous encounters at Renaissance’s Bleu Blanc – one a winemaker’s lunch (excellent) a business lunch (not so excellent) and a party with canapes (average). We’re fans of the French-farmhouse decor, however, so we’re keen to see how the Bleu Blanc Brunch stacks up.
We’re offered a drink at the bar before being seated at our table, so we agree to check out the cocktails while the starting canapes are passed around. There are two cocktails on offer for the brunch, we opt for the ‘Bon Scott’ – pineapple, sweet vermouth, bitters and lime. It reminds us of an overripe pineapple that’s starting to turn, so instead of round two, we chose to move on to the wine selection. There’s white, red and rose on offer here, and while the white is Sauvignon Blanc, thankfully it’s a more warm climate style and not too acidic. The rose and red aren’t bad either, in fact, we’d say these are above average brunch wines (though we think the best option is the Champagne package with the free-flow Taittinger).
The canapes consist of breadsticks, a sweet bread topped with cheese and a tomato tart with goat’s cheese so funky we smelled it coming. None of these really floated our boat so our group decided to move to our table to begin the brunch proper. The remainder of the first section of the brunch, ‘Rise & Shine’, is served next, and is comprised of two eggs on toast preparations – one with avocado and fig, the other with (super salty) oxtail. We’re not really egg-on-toast people so after a bite or two, we chose to move on to the lunch-style fare.
The ‘Starters’ section follows, with polenta croquettes and basil pesto ravioli arriving at our table. Had the basil pesto ravioli not featured goats cheese again we think we may have loved it (the goats cheese wasn’t mentioned in the brief menu descriptions, but strangely, we couldn’t find the sundried tomatoes that were mentioned on the menu). The polenta croquettes were large, heavy and we just didn’t see the need to eat such large portions of deep fried polenta without something more to accompany them. Perhaps tiny balls with a dipping sauce might have been better.
The mains then start arriving despite half the starters being missed (the kale salad and the salt baked beets), something which to their credit is quickly rectified when mentioned. The salt baked beets sound right up our alley but taste solely of candied orange…we’re a tad perplexed at why the lovely beetroot flavour has been totally overpowered in this dish. The kale salad is indeed that, but nothing to write home about.
The ‘Woodfire & Mains’ section forms the basis of the brunch menu, with two seafood dishes (charred tiger prawns and seabass), one meat dish (Black Angus) and three vegetable side dishes (leeks with red wine brown butter, mac & cheese with black truffle, comte and cheddar, and sweet potato with salted plum creme fraiche and pickled chilies). The seafood is the winner on the day apparently, with the seafood-eating portion off the table devouring an entire plate of the tiger prawns each, and all happy with the seabass. The Black Angus with caramelised shallots sounds like it will arrive as some sort of steak, but instead, it’s brisket with a spicy tomato sauce. Not at all what we expected (something we’re starting to get used to as the brief menu descriptions don’t seem to convey what arrives with complete accuracy), but the meat was tender and it’s a tasty dish nonetheless.
The mac & cheese might just be the dish of the day and one of the best we’ve tasted in the city (though we really didn’t detect any of the truffle as described on the menu). The leeks, topped with crushed hazelnuts, resemble strongly in appearance and dish design the charred leeks from Singapore’s Burnt Ends, but the taste is night and day. We love leeks (and think they are a perfect match for hazelnuts) but this dish was so sweet it conjured up memories of apple crumble topping. We just couldn’t eat this dish and considering how much we love leeks, that’s saying something. The sweet potato dish (another of our favourite vegetables) didn’t really work for us either, again trending super sweet (which can definitely work for sweet potato, just not in this instance).
There are three desserts, of which the stand out is the roasted pineapple with savarin cake and vanilla whipped cream that is served tableside. The black forest-esque dark chocolate trifle and the vanilla pot de creme are perfectly fine, and whilst don’t disappoint, don’t stun either – but saying that, brunch desserts never do so Bleu Blanc has actually performed above average in this category.
Ambience wise, our group pondered that the restaurant is a touch darker than the light wood and open plan design would have had us expect. We loved the low key modern lounge/dance music but overall the vibe was really sleepy and it felt like a normal weekday lunch vibe as opposed to a brunch.
We’re a little perplexed as to how to feel about the Bleu Blanc Brunch overall. The ingredients were good, but the dishes really didn’t have us singing their praises. All too often, the flavour balance and dish construction had us scratching our head, and the menu descriptions didn’t do a great job of conveying what was to come. We feel like surely Bleu Blanc has to more to offer as a restaurant than what, while a classy affair, ended up as overall a disappointing brunch experience. We truly wanted to love this brunch, but it just didn’t deliver what we had hoped. We wouldn’t return for another round of the brunch in it’s current configuration, but we do wonder if we should revisit to give the normal menu another chance…