The Alary brothers must be bored of my face by now.
Not only do I often frequent the window of Blanchette, soho, scoffing a crock monsieur and glass of sauvignon or two at an alarming rate but now there’s another Blanchette in town for me to become a part of the furniture of. Blanchette East.
Already in town at the Perseverance works, somewhere else that’s beginning to feel like a home from home, I am a guest at an event to celebrate the Top 100 Food Influencers of 2016 … remarkably, I am one of them. MILLY COOKBOOK is only a year old, and so being a Top 100 influencer and with a Cookbook on the way there’s an excuse to celebrate. We are joined by my PR guru and righthand woman who finds herself at a loss for the evening and so the three of us jump in a cab and hop skip and a jump our way to Brick Lane – embarrassingly close, we soon find out.
We start with what we know, a bag of bread and the truffle saucisson, served with shredded mustard celeriac and tangy cornichons. Freshly cut, succulent and salty saucisson with a gentle hum of truffle, topped onto some bread slathered generously with salted butter and creamy mustard celeriac – I defy you not to polish off every mouthful. Delicious.
No French evening would be complete without some fromage and so, ever the girl of a stinky blue cheese disposition we opt for the Bleu des Basque, a soft blue that bears a resemblance to my old time favourite, Roquefort. Crispy toast, sweet jam and a citrus dressed herb salad this could be lunch in itself with a glass of red wine … My next solo visit is sorted.
Next: frogs legs.
Now I know what you’re thinking: slimy, swimming in lashings of garlic kind of frogs legs? Wrong. These are frogs legs for the reluctant for they’re breaded, remarkable tender and not in the slightest bit slimy. Likened to a chicken goujon, dunk it in the Bois Boudran sauce and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re eating cod for it has a similar texture. Give them a go, you’ll be surprised.
Now for something new and this is where Blanchette East differs from my visit to Blanchette Soho, the Merguez sausage roll with harissa mayo.
With touches of North African cuisine, Blanchette East has a wonderful French/ African influence making for some delightlful flavours. The sausage roll had a sweet but mellow heat and teamed with the harissa mayo made for a delicious bite to eat. It was just a shame I had to share it with two other people! Next we move on to the fish.
The rare peppered tuna with chilli, avocado and lime not only looked beautiful but tasted fabulous. Seared to perfection the tuna remained tender and full of flavour. I couldn’t touch the avocado, the bain of my life makes me undignifyingly sick but I have on very good authority to complemented the tuna very well indeed.
The next dish was the squid ‘en Persillade’ with confit tomato, grilled bread and ink. I couldn’t grasp this, whilst I was eating it, it never crossed my mind I was eating squid. It were as if we were eating a herb crusted, delicate piece of white fish. It’s only when I scooped up a bit of the ink sauce that I was reminded what it really was – HOW DID THEY DO IT? Unusual but incredibly delicious and very tender.
As if we had any room for anything else we’re brought over the meat dishes. First a nod to French cuisine with Pork fillet, pickled griolles, cauliflower and truffle.
Deliciously pink, tender and teamed with sweet cauliflower, pickled griolle mushrooms and a salty jus this dish really popped. Not least of which with truffle it was positively delightful, but then again, when was anything ever ruined with the addition of truffle? … I rest my case.
We shared out the Lamb tagine with apricot, almonds and lebna accompanied with the saffron couscous, tabbouleh and pomegranate yoghurt.
Oh the tagine was a thing of DREAMS. This transported me, immediately to when I was 15 years old and tried my very first lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. The apricot added a delicious sweetness and the lebneh a welcome contrast of sourness to the wonderfully fragrant dish. Utterly moorish and teamed with the saffron couscous with jewels of bursting pomegranate this was a winning combination which I’m desperate to order again.
The green beans were absolutely fantastic too, blanched and still wonderfully green and crisp they were slathered in a tangy shallot and walnut dressing, covered in whole walnuts and shavings of aged Comté, a sharp and tangy cheese. Crispy and salty frites with tangy, creamy béarnaise? Need I explain??
And finally onto pudding. We share the Wild strawberry and black pepper vacherin.
A French deconstructed Eton mess if you like, with an overwhelming punch of fresh wild strawberry flavour like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Sweet, fresh and decadent, it’s everything you want from a pudding.
Blanchette East now takes pride of place as one of my favourite spots in London, and although I’m now a South Londoner having moved from Angel, this is without a doubt my go-to when in the area and it should be yours too. Already undoubtedly one of the hidden Gems of London, Blanchette East offers a delightful fusion of flavours and as always, makes for a perfect venue to share food all round. As always, service is friendly, the food fresh and really is absolutely delicious; but then again, it always has been.
Well done boys. You’ve done it again.
204 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SA
020 7729 7939 – http://www.blanchettebricklane.co.uk
- Just so you know … I was invited as a guest to Blanchette East but all views are my own.