If you're craving a Parisian jaunt but a trip across the channel isn't on the cards anytime soon, pay a visit to 9 D'Arblay St. Blanchette is a slice of Paris in London's Soho — an ode to traditional neighbourhood bistros and a celebration of Gallic gastronomy.
The restaurant has been a Soho favourite since its launch in 2013 by brothers Maxime, Malik and Yannis Alary, who lovingly named it after their mother. Family is clearly important to the Alary brothers and thus at Blanchette's heart is a commitment to conviviality. Its food is designed to be shared, with a menu divided into snacks, charcuterie, cheese and honey pairings and a selection of small meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
There are no fussy flourishes or pretentious 'concepts': this is simple French fare done well. Fresh ingredients meld perfectly to produce delicate flavour sensations — from the marriage of grilled pork belly with king oyster mushrooms, blue cheese crumble and apple to the meticulously considered balance of nutty aged comté and flowery, complex Bruyère honey.
The extensive wine list is heavy on French grapes (as it should be), while a cocktail menu offers all the usual suspects, plus French-inspired riffs on the classics, such as a Blanchette Old Fashioned and a Provençal Mojito.
The decor is in keeping with the style of a rustic French bistro, characterised by exposed brickwork, mis-matched wooden chairs and tables and Art Nouveau tiled walls. There's an eclectic display of curious objets d'art — from Gérard Depardieu cookbooks to Serge Gainsbourg CDs — that lends it an intimate, homey feel. It's cosy and inviting, softly lit by candles and soundtracked by upbeat French songs. The sort of place you'll want to linger for hours over great food, wine and conversation — whether with a first date or old friend.
Read our review of The Rooster, Antiparos.
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