I don’t care what anyone says but apart from having my personal favourite foods, there is one country in particular that always manages to satisfy on all counts – France! Butter, meat, wine, more butter, garlic and decadent desserts. With all of the richness and gluttony that France has to offer I’ve never quite understood why they’re not all very large – but I guess it’s down to freshness and quality. No artificial sugars or who knows what. Instead local and delicious foods which always satisfy – washed down with gallons of good red wine.
With that in mind I recently found myself in an area of London I really don’t visit much – Brick Lane. A road most well-known for its rather ordinary British curry houses – but that’s changing. There’s even a brand new, very smart restaurant on the street now and it was the setting for our lunch – Blanchette East. With an already popular site in the heart of the Soho, the guys behind Blanchette have decided to inject a little colour and je ne sais quoi into East London. We propped ourselves up at the counter and enjoyed a chilled glass of wine and some impressive olives. It’s a lovely space.
While toiling over the very inviting sounding menu we started with a snack – merguez sausage roll with harissa mayonnaise. Absolutely perfectly cooked and as golden as could be. The meat itself was moist and packed with flavour, while the smokey pepper flavour from the mayonnaise added an extra depth to the whole thing. We ordered this to share – though I wish we hadn’t.
Another absolutely stunning dish was the salmon tartare with spiced aubergine, sesame and tomato. I wasn’t quite sure about it at first, thinking its resemblance was too much like a ratatouille – but it couldn’t have been any more different. The salmon was gorgeous, the mixture of tomatoes and aubergine added lots of freshness and the oiliness from the crispy bread cut into everything perfectly. One of my favourite dishes from our lunch and very generous portion wise.
We didn’t actually order any of the charcuterie or fromage, but we did watch it all being prepared and I must say it all looked rather good, especially that herb coated Noix D’épaule.
We got a little meaty with our other dishes and I want to describe them as main course, however the food is all about sharing through small plates – which are actually quite large. Chargrilled flat-iron steak with beetroot, horseradish and cumin aioli was a perfectly nice plate of food, but overall it was probably the weakest for me. The meat was cooked well, but lacked the smokiness I was hoping for and the dish felt very over done with the cumin flavour meaning the earthiness of the beetroot was overshadowed. On the flip side, the simple side of frites with béarnaise sauce for dipping was a bowl of crispy fried heaven.
Much more impressive was the pork fillet with charred cauliflower and truffle. You could smell the dish from the moment it arrived in front of you and the pork was truly excellent with a lovely bit of dark bark coating to it. Fresh, zesty – it was all just so good.
Desserts here at Blanchette feel as though they’ve walked out of a Michelin starred kitchen and ended up in Brick Lane. Rhubarb vacherin was such a taste of Spring and that Summer was finally lurking. The rhubarb flavour was potent and even mouth-watering at times and everything else beneath the glossy sauce, such as the scoops of ice cream and the meringue which was just the right side of sticky.
Star of the show was the chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise with crème fraiche ice cream. The scoop of ice cream was reminiscent to a mini milk (heaven) and had a great texture, but that dacquoise was on another level. Smooth, crunchy, crispy, firm – so much texture and flavour to it I could have taken many more slices home. This dessert should never leave the menu and must become a signature of Blanchette East.
Finishing up on a coffee, we really did have a truly excellent meal here at Blanchette East. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting to expect, but either way it far exceeded my expectations. It’s not pushing boundaries in terms of creativity, but each dish is given attention to detail and what feels like a lot of love. If you’re looking for a modern taste of France, with a little North African thrown into the mix then you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fantastic new addition to an ever-changing East London. Now I just need to visit the Soho site.
NB: I was invited and my meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight