Owned by three French brothers, Blanchette is a charming little bistro on D’Arblay Street in Soho (opposite the wonderful Copita). It serves small sharing plates; think French tapas with a good selection of cheese and charcuterie.
On our Tuesday night visit the place was heaving and with no reservation we were offered a seat at the bar. The stools (which I normally dread) turned out to be far more comfortable than they looked. It was a very homely restaurant; it felt like we were sitting in a French Granny’s cottage in the Dordogne.
From the ‘snacks’ section of the menu they’d run out of the pig ears, pissaladière and croque Monsieur, which was a tad annoying. Instead, we opted for the cheese beignets (£3.50) and baked St Marcelin (£4.50) – both of which were really tasty. The crisp beignets were served with a seriously sweet onion chutney which was great. The baked St Marcelin cheese was pungently gooey and moreish but it could have done with more toast to scoop it up.
Also from that section, the frog legs (£5) which were served in a paper cone, were cooked to perfection but perhaps a little difficult to eat; I spent more time spitting out the tiny bones than I did actually eating the things. I’ve no idea what the hell ‘foie gras mi-cuit with Piment D’Espelette’ (£4.50) means, but I did know that it was bloody delicious.
We managed to order the last two baked scallops with cafe de Paris butter (£5.75 each) and thank Jesus we did, as they were really good. The scallops were served in their shell and were plump, juicy and topped with crisp fried onions which was a great touch.
The only dish I really didn’t j’adore was the fennel a la Greque with creamed goat’s cheese and black olives (£6.50). The fennel was stringy and chewy and a weird combination with the strong goat’s cheese. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The braised lamb shoulder with anchovy (£8.25) was really well balanced; the anchovy provided a subtle saltiness yet didn’t overpower the meat with its fishiness. The grilled beef onglet with snails en persillade, salsify chips and red wine sauce (£7.25) was delightful but the beef was sliced a little too thinly for my liking. The crisp salsify chips were lush. A side of frites with bearnaise (£3.75) were a little thicker than I’d hoped for (I thought frites were thin?) but they were actually brilliant and the sauce was creamy/tangy/heavenly.
For dessert we shared the chocolate marquise (£5.95) which was a bit too rich and stodgy for me. The accompanying salted caramel puffed rice tasted burnt which was a shame but the pistachio ice cream was very nice indeed.
The food we ate at Blanchette wasn’t without its faults but on the whole everything was very tasty and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening. It was the ambience and atmosphere however that really made us love the place. I may have been sat in the middle of Soho but I felt like I was on holiday – and that’s never a bad thing.