John Gregory-Smith fell in love with Blanchette restaurant in Soho
Check out Rachel Koo’s fabulous chicken in a red wine sauce here
I have always loved French food. From a very young age I use to knock back garlic snails when I was on holiday with my family and to this day I can eat a cassoulet any time of the year, and sadly I am in the camp that thinks foie gras is utterly amazing.
I often find French restaurants to be ‘local’ (great food – bit crap inside) or a bit stuffy (like an amazingly grand, silent library), so I was delighted to walk into Blanchette in Soho. It was fresh, modern and really fun; tick-tick-tick. They had a little bar where you could eat that was decked out with candles, ham and buckets of booze, which gave way to a tiny restaurant at the back. This was the French restaurant I had been waiting for – It was fun and I loved it.
Blanchette had an eclectic mix of little tables and the walls were decorated with vintage mirrors and cabinets. They played music, which I have always loved in restaurants. Not so loud that it’s like a gig, but loud enough so that you can get the vibe from it and add to your meal experience.
The food was classic French, all done in small plates. Again, I love this and was more than happy to order plenty of rich French dishes all at one. For our starters we had quinelled duck rillettes (£4.50) on toast were rich, beautifully textured and smokey and served with treacle-black pickled walnuts. Crispy pigs (£3) ears were like posh quavers and the goujons (£4) were a little bland for me.
A neat square of just-cooked coral pink salmon fell apart into a bed of wonderfully rich lentils that had been cooked with duck and herbs (£6.50). Fancy salsify chips topped tender chunks of rare cooked beef onglet (£7.25) in a wonderful red wine sauce. Already worth of clapping, this wicked little dish was made even better by two dollops of green escargot persillade. This my friends is chewy snails in a butter and parsley sauce, which melted into the steak, contrasting the soft meat and added another fabulous savoury twist to the magnificent little dish.
Rolled lamb shoulder (£8) was braised and served in a neat chefy ring. It sat on a bed of dark brown, slow cooked, sweet onions with a naughty rosemary jus. Sides of Jerusalem artichoke and potato gratin (£5.50) a but hard, but the leek salad (£5) was a triumph. A mound of wonderful tart frizze lettuce that was topped with small pieces of braised leeks and girolle mushrooms. Little croutons added crunch and a classic French vinaigrette swirled generously around the salad brought it together in creamy, mustard-like perfection.
French desserts are always rocking and Blanchette had a fabulous section, including a naughty chocolate marquise (£5.95), which was basically a slightly firm, round piece of very intense chocolate mousse, served with ice cream and a salted caramel rice puff biscuit and a wonderfully light personal-sized passion fruit pavlova (£4.50), served with a perfect quinnell of just melting, tart passion fruit ice cream. – Oh la la indeed.
For more information visit blanchettesoho.co.uk