Two Is Perfect Company Blanchette, Shoreditch

7th November 2018

Blanchette is a restaurant amongst friends, and by that I mean, it’s a kind of place that gets recommended by word-of-mouth, much like all of London’s best kept secrets. Not that Blanchette is exactly a secret, after all there are two venues — one in Soho and one on Bricklane — but somehow this authentic, little French restaurant has kept its head.

We’re booked into the Brick Lane address, and although both restaurants are aesthetically similar, this one avoids the influx of urgently hungry theatre-goers and bewildered looking tourists who can’t quite believe their luck that they’ve actually stumbled into somewhere decent and completely by accident, would you believe it?

It’s a bit of a grizzly, grey evening, but Blanchette wears it well with the promise of warmth, cosy wooden tables, candlelight and rich, French cuisine. The restaurant is run by three French brothers called Maxime, Yannis and Malik (authentic as you like) and the approach is unfussy, good food in a relaxed, informal setting — there’s a fresco of a reclining nude woman on one wall, and sprigs of flowers in mismatched vases, whilst a gentle soundtrack of French jazz hums in the background. We’re instantly at ease and the carafe of Côte du Rhône arrives quickly. On another night, we might be tempted by a French Kiss (a cocktail of vanilla vodka, chambord, raspberry and egg white), but tonight the mood is right for red wine.

The menu is one page split into snacks, charcuterie, cheese, plates and sides. The baked St. Marcellin with honey and truffle arrives on a rustic wooden board with a hot, oozing centre that we excavate with torn pieces of crusty bread. You could quite easily eat your fill on small plates alone, but we stop ourselves after a Merguez Sausage Roll with harissa mayonnaise to venture to the right of the menu and the mains.

The fillet of salmon is perfectly cooked in a tangy mix of flavours including saffron, chilli, citrus and pomegranate, whilst the braised lamb shoulder induces exclamations of wonder from my dining partner. Again, it’s expertly cooked, paired with a delightful pomme purée and caramelised shallots. We order a side of frites avec béarnaise and can’t quite finish them (portions are all good-sized for rich food) but they’re crisp and delicious, and the waitress doesn’t raise an eyebrow when we ask for a pot of aioli on the side because, well, we just feel like it.

That’s the wonderful thing about Blanchette, unlike some fussier joints in London, there aren’t any unspoken rules or etiquette; you won’t get people shooting you disapproving glances if your group becomes a bit raucous and you get the impression that the staff would do everything they can to accommodate their diners’ quirks. There’s even a vegan menu, which for a French restaurant, is quite something.
For more information on Blanchette, see on theirs website.
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