Dining Out: Lisa Jean at Bennetts Brasserie, Derby

Brunch at Bennetts Brasserie

Brunch at Bennetts Brasserie - Credit: Archant

The historic department store’s Brasserie has recently been acquired by acclaimed chef Lisa Jean. Derbyshire Life visits for brunch...

Brunch at Lisa Jean's

Brunch at Lisa Jean's - Credit: Archant

When your tastebuds desire something that little bit different, especially when you have time to sit back and relax, brunch offers an excellent excuse to enjoy a mid-morning feast. At its finest, it is a leisurely combination of breakfast and lunch that is hearty yet elegant, refined yet delicious, and at Derby’s historic Bennetts department store on Irongate, brunch can be a very special experience.

Customers often describe a visit to Bennetts, with its numerous departments, like stepping inside an Aladdin’s Cave and the location of the Brasserie, at the rear of the store on the first floor balcony and framed by two sweeping staircases, makes it something of a hidden gem.

Formerly run by renowned chef Michael Frith, the eatery was recently re-branded as Lisa Jean at Bennetts Brasserie following its acquiral by the talented local chef. Lisa brings decades of experience to the venue, having trained at Buxton College before working at top London restaurants including Nobu and Aubergine, and has risen to the challenge of maintaining the excellent reputation left by Michael.

Embracing Bennetts’ 280-year heritage, the classically decorated dining area has remained unchanged, with its curved ceiling and polished wooden flooring complemented by bistro style chairs and smartly dressed tables that overlook the shop below. The Brasserie caters for everyone from shoppers to daytime diners and opens daily 9am-3pm (Sunday 10am-12pm) for breakfast brunch, light bites, Sunday lunch and elegant champagne breakfast.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict - Credit: Archant

In the hope of cheering up a dull January morning, my colleague and I visited for brunch and began with fresh orange juice and Illy coffee. Prices on the breakfast menu vary from £2.95 to £9.95. There are seven larger choices, including a full English breakfast with bacon, local sausage, baked beans, saute?ed mushrooms, roasted vine tomatoes, white and black pudding, potato cake, fried bread, toast and your choice of eggs. Lighter options include fruit and maple syrup crunch with toasted granola, dried fruit, fresh berries and vanilla bean scented yoghurt; a fresh fruit platter; sweet pancakes; a basket of Danish pastries and croissants; and sausage or bacon sandwiches.

Lisa’s talents were well showcased in my colleague’s choice of eggs benedict (£8.95). Served on three toasted muffins, the perfectly poached eggs were complemented by thick slices of ham, so tasty that they would have been a delight on their own (we later learned Lisa honey roasts the meat herself), and hollandaise sauce that had just the right amount of lemon to cut through its natural richness.

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Sourcing only the best fresh produce is very much part of Lisa’s philosophy and every component in my smoked Scottish salmon and scrambled eggs dish (£9.50) was well cooked and delicious, from the succulent ribbons of fish to the fluffy scrambled eggs lightly seasoned with chives. Two potato cakes – crispy on the outside but light and flavoursome within – were the ideal accompaniment.

Service is second to none under the friendly guidance of manager Lee Bebbington and close attention is paid to even the smallest details, right down to the pristine white napery and modern tableware. The crockery is from Steelite and helps to make each dish look like a work of art, whilst the clear tea pot my fine Damann tea was served in was simple yet so stylish.

With such a talented chef at its helm, the Brasserie will no doubt continue to flourish as a venue that makes even the simplest meal a refined and special experience. My only regret is that we didn’t have room for the banana and buttermilk pancakes with toffee sauce, cinder toffee pieces and banana ice cream. Next time!

Lisa Jean at Bennetts Brasserie, 8 Iron Gate, Derby DE1 3AL.

Tel: 01332 344261 lisajean-bennetts.co.uk