When writing negative reviews I often question my subjectivity – am I just grumpy? Was I just unlucky? Will my tiny, unimportant blog have a negative impact beyond its humble intentions? Am I just a pretentious cock that likes to write about first world problems, and is all of this, ultimately, just to please myself without adhering to balance or truth?
Whenever I feel this insecurity I try and remind myself of places that I feel certain about. Blanchette is one of them – it brings back an emotional understanding of what really good food really is – and shows that when skill, passion and authenticity work together there is no space for any confusion.
Walking into Blanchette is like walking into your mum’s living room in Provence. While overlooking the Mediterranean Sea you are having a glass of cool Rosé, smelling her food simmering on the stove in the kitchen. If you don’t have a french mother, grandmother or even relatives just make them up. You feel at home, comfortable and hungry. And happy, so very happy.
The small bar at Blanchette is my favourite lunchtime spot in Soho and if you are lucky enough to enjoy one of our great British summers you might also want to grab a table outside on D’Arblay St – Copita is just across the road and your wise choice to stay at Blanchette affords you a smug smile or two.
The Menu at Blanchette basically consists of three short sections – fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Vegetable dishes in France apparently aren’t actually vegetarian. Half of them have foie gras on them, which makes me grin. The wine list is concise and mostly french, there are no annoying tasting menus or other distractions. The three brothers that run Blanchette (Maxime, Yannis and Malik) clearly know what they are doing.
I can’t resist a tuna tartare, no matter where I go. This one is what I would call “provençale” with strong and rustic flavours, capers and shallots embedded with the tartare itself. The bold tapenade really hammers home all that sunshine stored in those black olives and the Rouille competes for the top spot on the list of lushest things to ever touch any tongue. All this combined with the super crunchy crostinis is a delicious and tasty mix of fresh flavours and textures – served on a wooden board, just like your french grandmother would.
The above salad is one of my all time favourite single dishes ever. Ever! The zingy vinegar dressing is perfectly contrasted by the sweet foie gras and the earthy walnuts are at brilliant balance with the fresh and crunchy taste of the green beans. It all comes together like a surprise symphony and makes you crave for more and more …
What is so fantastic about places like Blanchette is that you can order something seemingly ordinary, in this case Grilled Chicken with Lentils, and be blown away, almost by accident. It was only a lunch and I didn’t want to go overboard so went for something healthy and without red meat, for once. What I got was a stand-out dish that was the highlight of my meal, and probably the highlight of any meal I had in many months. Wild Mushrooms and Puy Lentils in a thick and gooey chicken stock, topped with the moistest and most tender chicken chunks. Absolutely divine. Must. Have. Again.
At under £40 per person including two glasses of wine, Blanchette is a real gem. I love it, and so will you.
[9/10] Blanchette, 9 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8DR London