Sunday, 19 January 2014


Nibs and I couldn’t believe our luck walking into Blanchette at 8pm on a Friday night and getting seats at the bar.  When does that ever happen in Soho?  I suspect it was due to lack of publicity at the time, Blanchette was a mere 2 weeks into existence and you’re not likely to be as lucky as we were, because on the quality of the food, and loveliness of the service, this place will no doubt be rammed for the foreseeable future.

They’re not taking reservations and the room is fairly small.  It’s on the site that was previously occupied by Nara on D’Arblay Street.  I realized this once inside when I saw the lazy susan.  Nara was pretty average and Blanchette is far from it.  Things started off nicely with a saucer of champagne, and many followed throughout the night.  Bread, baguette, comes in a paper bag with lovely salted butter (£2), we weren't going to get bread but the lovely lady behind the bar suggested we'd need it and I'm not the person who says no to bread.  It was excellent.

First to arrive were the goujonettes with gribiche sauce (£4).  Like little fish fingers with an eggy mayonnaise, love a hard boiled egg, love mayo.  A squeeze of lemon and a little crunch of watercress and we were away.  Next to come was the gurnard with brown butter, capers, lemon and braised baby gem (£6.50).  Nicely cooked fish in a tart but rich sauce, so far so good.

One of the most memorable things were the cheese beignets, served with an onion confit (£3.50), the confit made this but the beignets were special, cheesy and buttery and really moresish.  Great value.  These arrived with the frites with bearnaise (£3.75), perfect french fries with a classic eggy butter sauce.

Next up was the dish of the night, and the one Nibs had picked out from the start, the chargrilled chicken with white beans, savoy cabbage and smoked aioli (£6.50).  Again topped with watercress, the thigh meat was so tender and the beans provided a thick sauce for mopping up with the bread.  This was the one. 

The final savoury dish to arrive was the ox cheek bourguignon with ventrenche, a French bacon (£8).  There were little toasted soldiers too.  The meat was as cheeks should be, falling apart and the sauce was another candidate for the baguette.  Which seemed never ending. 

We ended with the chocolate pudding, with ice cream and hazelnuts, it was layers of crunchy pastry on top of a warm chocolate sauce, a little sweet for my liking but we were too full for cheese.

I absolutely adored everything I ate that night, and the whole thing would have been a steal had it not been for the £100 we spent on champagne, but we had an amazing time and I can't wait to return and try everything I didn't get chance to eat on the first occasion.  Especially the charcuterie and cheese selections. 

One thing that niggled me was the bar seating, I found the chairs really uncomfortable and I usually favour sitting at the bar.  You can see in this pic that there's something not right with them, they really dig into your back.  Anyways, it's a small gripe.  We had a brilliant evening.  I think it would be a great place for a date.  Or a large group, there's a large communal table to the rear.  Love the place.

9 D'Arblay St

Bistro Blanchette on Urbanspoon

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