Upon entering Blanchette Brick Lane you immediately feel at ease. The cosy café is tucked away behind a faded mint green façade, adorned with lit candlesticks, marble counter tops, tiled floors, leafy plants dangling from the ceiling, radiates calming vibes. But when you see and taste the gorgeous array of modern French plates with a North African twist, you will be jolted awake! We still cannot get over the French-Moroccan flavors and aesthetics at Blanchette, and need to shout it out loud. For lunch or dinner, the small plates to share will spoil all taste buds, even gluten-free ones! We can’t wait for our next date night already…
A team of three brothers first opened Blanchette in Soho, serving up fun French tapas, and due to their success expanded to Shoreditch and tried something a little different – which is definitely working. One of the brothers warmly welcomed us in on a rainy Monday afternoon, seated us in a prime people watching spot by the window with a glass of crisp Moroccan Chardonnay and talked us through the menu. You can choose from snacks, cheese, charcuterie, fish, meat and vegetable dishes; if served with gluten-free bread, a majority of the dishes are NOBREAD approved! And with separate fryers, no need to worry about cross-contamination here. 2-3 dishes are recommended to share per person, and we only wished we could squeeze in more.
We started with a decidedly French dish, the duck rilletes. We were served freshly pulled duck, laced with spring herbs and paired with seeded gluten-free toast in a delicate pile on a wooden board. The salmon tartar that followed was an innovative North African-French offspring: fresh salmon combined with spiced aubergine, sesame and tomato, served in lettuce cups with a dollop of lebna. A real NOBREAD winner!
Our next fish was the sea bream, marinated in Moroccan chermoula, grilled to perfection, topped with pomegranate seeds, and served with zucchini noodles. It was an optical illusion – French to the eye, but bursting with North African flavour. The meat dish recommended was the mutton and sweet potato tagine, served traditionally in a Moroccan clay dish and playfully topped with wild garlic stems. It was soul warming, but not too heavy so that we could have space for the grilled white asparagus to officially welcome spring. Our favourite vegetable, imported from the French countryside, was fabulously paired with a poached egg and tomato, hibiscus salsa.
In summary, Blanchette Brick Lane is not another typical French bistro in London. It is steps above, notable for French flavour quality and simplicity with a North African edge. My meal there was a beautiful experience all around and NOBREAD can’t wait to return.