Blanchette East opened its doors in August 2016 – after brothers Maxime, Malik and Yannis Alary saw the success that rocketed with their Soho offering. The restaurant is lovingly named after their mother and boasts a modern French menu, which incorporates more southern French and North African influences along with carefully selected spices from the regions. It’s rather off the beaten track, submerged alongside the curry houses of popular and gritty Brick Lane. Blink or get lost in the walkabout scuffle and you’ll probably miss it.
Inside, the décor is charming and apparently was inspired by the Parisan Belle Epoque era, combined with the urban feel of East London. I take a seat at the far back of the restaurant along with my wine expert pal, Will. Blanchette was his choice, so I knew at least if the food was off, the decent wine would soften the disappointment somewhat. Only a few minutes in and I demand to be moved to a leather seated corner spot – I have a thing about being aloof in the middle of the room, four sets of eyes at every angle and a waitress pouncing on each shoulder. Finally, when we were settled, we reached for the menu which is made up of sharing plates. Wine pal Will insisted that I chose the lot – it was a fairly intimidating prospect because the choices were plentiful and exciting to the eye. We opted for; Warm Smoked Haddock with Peas, Potato, Bacon and Grated Egg (£7.50) to sit alongside, Tuna Tartare with Spiced Aubergine, Sesame and Tomato (£8.50) Fish plates sorted, I studied the meat plates which looked grown-up and delicate.
I decided against the snails – perhaps because of my brother’s horrific tale when he consumed some on a school trip to a French Chateau, he really did bring the tale to life. I chose Confit Duck Leg with Sesame Roasted Celeriac, Green Peppercorns and Quince (£9.70) and Pork Fillet with Pickled Wild Mushrooms, Cauliflower and Truffle (£9.50) We were feeling greedy so we threw Lamb Tagine with Apricot, Almonds and Lebna (£9.25) into the mix and some greenery for good measure with the Green Bean Salad with Aged Comté Cheese, Shallots and Walnut Dressing (£7.25). The fish plates were good, in fact, very good. They greeted us first and the haddock was perfectly cooked and the grated egg and bacon bought an inventive twist to the bog standard creamy mash; that I was used to seeing sitting alongside haddock. We fought over the duck, there wasn’t enough of it – we clawed at the legs which were dripping in celeriac. My vote has to go to the pork fillet – sublime. The smell of truffle got me when it arrived and the mushrooms were a brilliant match. It reminded me of Peter Mare’s text ‘A Year in Provence’ he didn’t half bang on about truffles and this dish was pure class. I chewed the pork along with the green bean salad, the walnut dressing and cheese made my mouth feel rich and spoilt. Wine pal, Will, was quiet for once as he squared up the lamb and the dry white wine infused the palette with fruity bursts. We spent the remaining minutes cutting the final pork fillet into miniature pieces, we were getting itchy at who would have the last succulent mouthful – I won, of course.
What I commend Blanchette for is its simplicity. It doesn’t need velvet booths or chandeliers, just promise you’ll try the pork, you’re in for a treat.
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