Tucked away on one of the quieter streets in Soho, Blanchette was buzzing inside with a full house. The tiled bar, brick wall, wooden cabinet and furniture gave a cosy rustic feel to the dining room, just like the classic bistros in the more local neighbourhoods of Paris. Our friendly server came to take our drinks order and explained the menu to us. We decided to pick 3 each from the menu to make sure we have some space left for dessert.
Comte (aged 26 months, cow’s milk, nutty flavour with a creamy texture)
Cheese is cheese
Crispy Frog Legs with Bois Boudran Sauce
Frog legs are not dissimilar to chicken, just more tender and succulent. The tangy cherry tomato based sauce mixed with tarragon kept the deep-fried snack light and appetising.
Lamb Croquettes with Piment d’Espelette Mayonnaise
Another item from the specials menu. The crispy shell enveloped a a small ball of slow-cooked shredded lamb that was soft and juicy, went well with the piquant peppery aioli to give it little fiery kick.
Mushroom Duxelles Tartes Fines with Poaches Egg and Fourme d’Ambert (left) Cornish Scallop with Rose Harissa, Coppa and Brioche Crumb (right)
This tart was full of surprises; a thin stretch of light and airy filo pastry with buttery fragrance, spread with a layer of caramelised onion, topped with plump, garlicky, succulent mushroom and crunchy roasted leeks, draped over with gooey melty pungent soft cheese, finished with a runny poached egg. It was all the perfect flavours in one mouthful. This was possibly my favourite of the evening.
The scallop was unremarkable. There was more breadcrumbs than scallop and all I could taste was
Steak Tartare with Pickled Girolles, Egg and Smoked Anchovy
Because I can’t say no to tartare. This was textbook tartare, the raw beef chopped just fine enough to be smooth but large enough to retain its bouncy chew, perfectly seasoned and dressed with a touch of pickles to lift its flavours. The poached egg was semi-cooked through to a soft gooey yolk, that was delicious with the pungent anchovy alone, slightly different to the conventional raw yolk but it worked for me.
Hake a la Grenobloise with cauliflower puree
The skin of the thick hake fillet was pan-fried to brittle crispiness, served on a bed of smooth cauliflower puree. A la Grenobloise refers to a browned butter sauce mixed with capers, parsley and lemon, with some croutons thrown in. Our server poured the sauce over the fish and it brought the dish to life. The rich buttery grease was lifted by the lemon and herb in the sauce, and was a natural match to the slithery fish that was perfectly undercooked. Perhaps there was a bit too much sauce, as it got very heavy when it drowned the puree, but delicious nonetheless.
Red Leg Partridge with toasted kale and white beans
The partridge was exquisitely roasted, the bird was tender but firm in texture. The kale wafers crumbled and made up for the lack of crispy partridge skin. It was the white beans that ruined it for me; I just don’t like beans. It’s me.
Braised Lamb Shoulder with Anchovy, Rosemary and Soubise Sauce
The rotund of lamb shoulder collapsed into soft shreds as we dug the knife in, absorbing the meat jus and soaking up more flavours. The mushy garlic clove with subtle hints of rosemary complimented the lamb perfectly, balanced with the natural sweetness from the onions in the sauce. I found it a tad too salty with the addition of anchovy, perhaps an unnecessary touch.
Creme Brûlée with Candied Ginger Sable Biscuit
Jer had her eyes on this specials dessert the moment we sat down. Can’t go wrong with a creme brûlée.
Chocolate Fondant with Pistachio Ice Cream
Our dessert took a long time to arrive, our server explained it was because the first fondant didn’t turn out with a runny centre so they had to redo it. Fine. It was a good fondant with a molten lava of hot chocolate, cake was moist on the inside and slightly crumbly on the outside. It was perfect with the pistachio ice cream.
We had a fantastic evening at Blanchette. The food was delicious with great variety and perfect for sharing. Perhaps as the meal went on, the dishes were starting to feel heavy, especially after the hake with brown butter sauce. But then again, in classic French cuisine, chefs never shy away from generous blocks of butter, a healthy sprinkle of sugar and a casual dollop of cream. Sure things will be fine if we wash them down with enough red wine. Reminds me of the big chef in a Ratatouille-like kitchen. Great evening in a little slice of Paris – excellent choice Jer.
9 D’Arblay Street
Tel: +44 207 439 8100