Normally when I think of French cuisine I think of elegant dinning, rich sauces, course after course of exquisitely presented plates and of the love of my life, cheese.
I think of those chic Parisian women enjoying expensive wine in even more expensive surroundings. And as much as I love the idea of wearing Chanel to enjoy a Châteauneuf du Pape I often forget there’s a laid back, more bohemian side to the French that is much more suited to my attire and attitude.
Working in Soho, I’d walked past this restaurant which opened in late 2013, a few times and always wondered what was on offer. I then came across Little Miss Notting Hill’s post about it and vowed to try it out the next time I had a dinner date after work.
That dinner date arrived on Thursday when I met my friend Michelle for a catch up (do I do anything else other than constantly ‘catch-up’ with friends! Any other Londoners feel like this?!) – She told me she had some huge news so what better way to break it than over a bottle of red and a plate of Roquefort.
We popped in at 6.15pm to a near empty restaurant and asked if they had room for two. They popped us at the bar where we were served by a beautiful lady in a stunning pink floral bomber jacket and edgy gold tiger necklace…
…far from the crisp white shirts and stuffy aprons you’d expect at a French restaurant, this place was trendy with a capital T. From the exposed brickwork to the arty trinkets and porno wall paper in the toilets I loved how nonchalant this place feels. It’s just very cool and very ‘couldn’t give a f***’ French!
The beautiful lady behind the bar asked us if we’d been before, we hadn’t. She then told us that the food was tapas style, small plates and she would recommend 2-3 each. She took our order for a bottle of red while we got down to sussing out the menu and whittling down our choices.
We actually got stuck on the first page with all the cheeses and chacuterie and rather than complicating things with the second page of meat, veg and fish dishes decided to order some bread, Camembert and Tomme De Savoie cheese to start.
Our bread arrived in a cute paper bag and the cheese on an equally cute wooden board. The Camembert was dreamy and the Tomme De Savoie nutty and delicious.
Once we polished off the cheese we had another look at the menu and this time opted for a plate of Chacuterie, specifically the Jambon Sec de Montagne and the Truffle Saucisson. I heart truffle.
The ham was amazing however I wasn’t as keen on the sausage which was a shame as I assumed the addition of truffle would have been a real ‘write home about’ dish. Each to their own I guess.
After this came another round of cheese, the Bleu Des Causses which was a stinky blue, similar to that of a Rouqefort, it was smooth and soft spreadable superbness! (I think my alliteration obsession is getting a bit silly, no?)
We continued to guzzle the wine so ordered another half carafe to keep us going along with our finale, some Frites and Béarnaise sauce
– possibly my favourite combination of all, something as simple and common as chips with something as decadent and rich as bearnaise, it’s like wearing Chanel to the Supermarket, oh! well hello Chanel A/W 2014 collection – I’m so on trend, even my food is rocking an A/W14 feel!
An hour or so into dinner and the restaurant was now heaving with people. Every spot at the bar was taken, seats outside had filled up and the reservations for the back of the restaurant had arrived.
The music was super cool French-house with a little bit of Disclosure thrown in for good measure. It was the perfect mix of hip and happening and made the restaurant seem like a cool little club. It definitely got myself and Michelle in the mood to carry on into the evening!
Having since looked at the Blanchette website too, I found out that one of the owners, Malik is also the founder of sound design company La Musique du Faubourg, it’s his job to ensure the music selection creates a lively and social atmosphere and he sure manages this!
I was really pleased with my little trip to Blanchette, I really wasn’t expecting somewhere so easy-going and cool so was really pleasantly surprised.
It was a great place to spend the evening and the hours whizzed by! I’ll definitely be going back soon, after all, I need to work my way through page two of the menu!
Oh and my friend’s amazing news? Well she has done the enviable thing of quitting her job and buying a ticket to get a tan, possibly fall in love and (hopefully not) never return.
I know – could I be more jealous! She’s off to Sri Lanka first to work in an Elephant sanctuary before heading over to Borneo to swim with turtles (or something along those lines) get her scuba diving degree (or whatever it is you get in scuba diving) and generally make me question what I’m doing staying in London and riding on the tube under the armpit of the world’s smelliest and sweatiest man.
Good luck my little Michelle! I’ll miss you but I’m sure Blanchette will keep me occupied.
Thanks for reading!