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London Restaurant Review: Blanchette, Soho

by Carla Griscti
Blanchette restaurant, London

From London to Paris. Or even London in Paris. That has quite a ring to it. I may start my own blog appreciation page. I’m a sucker for any fabulous French quirks. I will of course put this down to my proud French heritage. I have my Parisian grandfather to thank for passing on his passion and flair for fanciful French food. So naturally, almost anything with a French flag gets huge thumbs up from me.

There are plenty of New York style brasseries in London, but trying to find a quirky Parisan haunt right in the heart of Soho can be somewhat of a struggle. Zédel is a pretty good bet, but if you’re after something more intimate, wandering aimlessly through the winding streets of Soho in search of authentic Parisian delicacies can often leave you at a loss − and when the hunger pangs suddenly hit − pining for a dirty burger.

Whilst a gentle Soho stroll is the perfect way to pass the time in the midst of central London, a leisurely mooch can swiftly turn into a tortuous trek when you’re feeling famished. And if you’re craving quaint Parisian-style plates, it’s basically best to plan a little in advance.

And for those who love a bit of fusion cuisine, Blanchette is definitely your best bet. A charming Parisian haunt with a touch of New York urban chic, Blanchette is a collection of tasty titbits combining the bold, rich flavours of France with a quirky New York twist. Think ox cheeks bourgignon and deep-fried frogs crispy legs with a bois boudran dipping sauce.

The restaurant is rustic, warm and incredibly homely. It kind of feels like you’ve stepped inside an old French kitchen, with stripped furniture, dark, sultry walls and bare brick walls. The romantic, ambient lighting secures Blanchette as a dinner date hotspot, (as we humorously discover first hand with first daters either side of our table) but equally (we know how to hold our own), you can have just as much fun with friends or colleagues. The dining room is on the intimate side, so isn’t particularly good for larger groups, but for our cosy ‘unromantic’ table of two, it’s just perfect.

The concept behind Blanchette is to share small plates. A tapas smorgasbord of bold, flavoursome dishes. The menu is pretty overwhelming, mainly because I’m distracted by the confit white pork Scotch egg and mini beef burger. I’ve already fallen at the first hurdle. If you’re indecisive with your menu choices, Blanchette is pretty unforgiving.

The dishes look rich, so we’re a little unsure how many plates to order. Can we really eat Scotch eggs, mini burgers and duck confit? There’s also the incredible charcuterie and cheese selection brimming with fanciful French treats. Think truffled saucisson, creamy camembert and bleu des basques. Panic sets in. We politely summon the waitress with a whimper of desperation. We’re told to order 2-3 dishes per person. I’m slightly dubious. We only have a small table. I acquiesce. She clearly knows her stuff. 

We’re ravenous, which is a good thing. These dishes may be small but they certainly pack a filling punch. Each plate is packed with flavour, we’re just thankful they’re small portions. We will most certainly be rolling ourselves out of here this evening.

We start with a white pork Scotch quail eggs with a confit middle, delicate green leaves and a tangy herb dressing. Just divine. The pork melts-in-the-mouth. The soft quails eggs are perfectly oozing with golden yolk, and the crispy breadcrumb coating has the perfect crunch.

Then there’s the grilled squid and heritage tomatoes with red onion and ink aioli. The velvety squid falls into my mouth, almost as soft as scallops. The squid ink aioli is the perfect accompaniment, without over-powering the delicate taste of the squid.

We move onto mains. Mini steak burgers slathered in a generous helping of bubbling, gooey raclette cheese, onion confit in a sweet brioche bun. Incredibly moreish and the perfect nod to a towering New York burger.

Thinking ourselves wholly over-indulgent, we opt for a lighter fish dish to offset the bold flavours of pork and beef. The roast hake is salted, crispy and utterly delicious, with a delicate pea puree and truffle butter.

And the piece de resistance is the baked piperade. Duck eggs baked in the oven with peppers, onions and garlic. Possibly a little too much for our modest stomachs, as we shamefully decide against the duck confit mid third course, we quickly cancel our order knowing full well we couldn’t possibly manage another morsel.

Or so we thought… that was before we saw the dessert menu. Which of course, we shared. Hot chocolate fondant is far too good to pass up. One heavenly bite trickles with chocolatey sweetness, and the salted caramel ice cream has a delightfully decadent crunch.

Blanchette captures an imaginative, romantic moment in Paris. In quaint, rustic surroundings with a nod to New York trends, Blanchette is the perfect place for those who want to savour the flavours of Paris and New York, in one handy hit. Two big thumbs up in our book.

Visit Blanchette on 9 D'Arblay Street, Soho, London, W1F 8DR

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