9 D’Arblay St, W1F 8DR,
firstname.lastname@example.org/(0)20 7439 8100
Peruvian, Palestinian, Chinese, Japanese and that’s not to forget Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese) cuisines have all become part of the Soho restaurant renaissance, but whilst modern British and European, regional Italian, and Spanish tapas joints abound, what has been missing from this burgeoning scene is a bijou French bistro. Since Casse-Croute opened on Bermondsey St, the on-trend artery gastronomique, it was inevitable that Soho would follow suit and now with Blanchette it has.
The restaurant which describes itself as a bistro is the creation of the three Alary brothers; Maxime and Yannis have backgrounds in the hospitality business working in London, New York and Paris and are in charge of Blanchette. Malik runs a sound design company and creates the playlists for the sound system. Chef Tam Storrar learnt his trade at Bibendum and brings influences from that restaurant’s more formal approach to the table.
Blanchette also benefits from consultancy and partnership with tapas specialists Salt Yard Group (Salt Yard, Dehesa, Opera Tavern, Ember Yard) and it is this relationship that defines much of what Blanchette is about. For this is first and foremost another Soho small plates operation, and not really an old-school bistro, but with added French (window) dressing.
The interior is quite dark and decked out with brick walls, decorative tiles and wood with seating either at the bar or at tables. It is tricked out with junkshop ephemera, a signifier that the past is being reframed to make it speak to the present. Tapas style, you can order bar snacks, some fromage or charcuterie and then there are small plates of meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
Since it was lunch we ordered a bottle of Petit Ballon Blanc, Cotes de Gascogne (Colombard) 2013 (£22) which was crisp and fresh, full of lime and apple flavour.
Seared peppered tuna was a great piece of fish cooked rare, and came with grilled broccoli and piperade (£7.75).
Salmon tartare with cucumber, dill and crème fraiche (£7) was zingy and fresh, perfectly constructed.
Baked Scallops with Café de Paris butter (£5.75 each) had a breadcrumb crunch and a juicy richness from the butter-a cult concoction developed in the 1940s in Geneva as an accompaniment to sirloin steak created from a blend of butter, tomato ketchup, herbs and spices, and anchovies.
Frites and bearnaise. (£3.75) were suitably crisp and the sauce was rich and moreish whilst a smoked duck breast salad had tender and delicious meat and came with heritage tomato vierge and baby artichoke (£7.50).
Grilled asparagus came with Cervelle de Canut, the Lyonnaise soft herby cheese and nutty aged Comté from the Jura (£7.25) in a perfect summer combo.
Macerated fruits with white wine sabayon and Madeleines (£5.25) had great mouth feel with the creamy sabayon, the fruit and the madeleines combining in a rather sexy way.
A raisiny glass of Pineau de Charentes, Vieux Blanc, Francois Boyer (£4.75) helped me digest my deconstructed ‘Tart’ lemon pot with strawberries and an astringent gin and parsley sorbet.
Soho needed Blanchette. It sits very easily in D’Arblay St, which used to be full of little recording studios, opposite Copita (see our review) which is one of my favourite tapas places. The food has a Gallic charm combined with a feel for the zeitgeist and as such it is très agréable.