1.21.2014

BLANCHETTE

After several attempts which failed before Christmas to go to the new French bistro Blanchette in Soho, last week I managed to go there and had lunch.

The decoration and atmosphere as soon as you arrive makes you feel in France, with a lot of French objects from a Bécassine doll to the Gérard Depardieu cookbook (I didn't know he wrote one before I saw it there).
Tiles at the bar are painted with an Art-Nouveau style frame like Nover from the 1900's, and on the counter you can see some fresh products such as French baguette, saucisson, charcuteries and cheese.
The details I really like was red bricks wall, it reminds me my hometown, the Pink City: Toulouse which is famous for wall with 'la brique toulousaine'.
Picture from Blanchette website
The concept is based on the idea of sharing small French dishes. You can see their menu HERE. Price are from £2.50 up to £8. It is a very good value, 7 dishes without wine for 2 person, £39.66 (service included).

From all the new opening restaurants I have been in the last couple of month, Blanchette was the best I had so far. This is for sure a restaurant I will recommend for any occasion, from a quick hour lunch ( food comes very quickly to the table but you don't feel you are in the rush to eat it !) to a romantic dinner with candles or dinner with friends. 

All dishes were very good, very tasty, they all had a good balance with a little note of crunchiness for some of them.
Duck rillettes
Cheese Beignets with Onion Confit
Croque monsieur
Leeks Vinaigrette with Frisée and Wild Mushroom
Braised Lamb Shoulder with Anchovy, Rosemary and Soubise Sauce
Frites and Béarnaise

The only dish which can be improve in my opinion were the fries, they were good but they could be better, it seems they are not at the same quality level of all dishes.

Warm Confit of Salmon with Duck, Puy lentils and Herbs
The best final touch to this place, was Duralex glass made in France. They always remind me silly challenge game I used to play at school at lunch time, depend on 'how old your glass said you were', the younger or oldest one as a challenge to realise. This time I was 28, but I was with a English friend who doesn't know this game. 

If I had to choose my two favourite dishes from this lunch it will be the duck rillettes and braised lamb. 
My choice might change in my next visit as I want to try the ox cheeks bourguignon with ventreche, baked St Marcelin and foie gras mi-cuit with piment d'’espelette, but to be honest I might do several visit to try everything on their menu, as everything sounds delicious. 

9.5/10 (minus 0.5 only for the fries)
Blanchette Soho 
9 D'Arblay Street
London W1F 8DR 
Twitter: @BlanchetteSoho

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1.08.2014

HOUSE OF HO

Recently I tried the new Bobby Chinn's restaurant, on Old Compton Street : House of Ho. It is according to what I read a Vietnamese restaurant with some American influence.
I had dinner there with a friend, our waitress explained to us their concept. 
The concept is easy, you order dishes and they are made to be share on the tables, they come to the table when they are ready in no particular order. 
If the quantity in the plate are fine, I don't usually have any problem with this concept. 
We ordered 2 cocktails : The Flying Shiso Martini and The 'Ho'ggroni ', a bottle of wine and 8 courses and one jasmine rice . 


My friend had the Crab pomelo on his own as I have a crab intolerance. According to him, I could  have easily ate this dish as there was a very tiny quantity of crab, to not say nothing ! It was more like a nice salad of vegetables noodles.
 Crab Pomelo, Vegetable Noodles, Mint, Lemon Oil & Crispy Vietnamese Crackers

To start my dinner I ate the Pho cuon fillet mignon, it was nicely presented on the plate, but I didn't think it has a lot of flavour. It also totally fall apart when I tried to dip in the sauce.
 Pho Cuon Fillet Mignon


The first dish we shared was the Spicy salmon tartare, this dish was good but I though the chopped Pistachio, shiso, jicama and asian vinaigrette will add a vietnamese touch to the dish, but to me it was a classic traditionnal salmon tartare. I was a bit disappointed. 
Spicy Salmon Tartare, Chopped Pistachio, Shiso, Jicama with Asian Vinaigrette

We had after BBQ Ribs and Chicken wings, both dishes had nothing exceptional, they were good but again I didn't feel the vietnamese touch in the seasoning. 
 BBQ Baby Back Ribs on a Light Asian Slaw 
 Grilled Chicken Wings, Spicy Chilli Glaze


Our favourite dishes of the night were The 'Shaking Beef' and the Chicken Potato curry.
When dishes arrived on the table we were a bit surprised by the quantity in the plate, for a £14  and £9 main course we were expecting something much bigger.
The beef was nice and very tender. The chicken potato curry is robably the only dish which makes me feel I was in a vietnamese restaurant.
 The ‘Shaking Beef’, Grass-Fed, 21 day-aged Fillet
 Chicken Potato Curry, Paddy Leaves and Crispy Shallots

The Lemon creme brûlée passed the spoon test with success ! I was pretty happy with this dish as the taste of lemon wasn't strong, the crème was light and the toffey on top as the perfect texture.
 Lemon-Scented Creme Brulee

Overall the food was ok, all dishes were light, maybe too light. 
They were nicely presented on the plate but I didn't get the feeling to be in a Vietnamese restaurant apart from one dish.
I was very unsatisfied by my £74 dinner for two, we went on one of their soft opening dinner during their first month in December, so we got 50% offer (only on food). Full price our dinner would have been £115. 
After 7 courses I was still hungry. 
If the concept is to share dishes on the table, I think they should put more food in the plate.
There is a saying which says: it is not the quantity which matters but the quality, in this case the quality of the food wasn't perfect too, I think all dishes need more seasoning, and a stronger Vietnamese touch! 
 The House of Ho
55-­59 Old Compton Street
London  W1D 6HW
Twitter: @HouseofHo 

4/10
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HERMAN ZE GERMAN & BOOPHIS

''Gast in Deutschland !'' It is probably what you will have in mind if you walk around Soho & Fitzrovia those days, as two restaurants (German/ Austrian inspiration) opened recently Herman Ze German  and Boopshis.

Herman Ze German:
This place is probably my ''emergency'' choice when I have no idea where to get my take away food for lunch. I know I will never be disappointed ! 
In the last month I have been there many times, which gave me the occasion to try most of their dishes. 
The concept of this restaurant is easy and based on a kind of fast food concept. You order at the counter and then a waiter brings the food to your table when it is ready or you can ask for take away.

Meat balls with salad and fries
Ze wurst roll with pommes
Ze Pork Schnitzel, lettuce, tartare sauce and pommes

Herman Ze German
33 Old Compton Street 
London W1D 5JU 
Twitter: @Hermanfeeds

9/10
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Boopshis:
Boopshi's has recently opened in Fitzrovia on Windmill Street. They serve authentic schnitzels, made from organic british rose veal, rare breed pork or free range chicken. Alongside they have other signature dishes such as ox tongue served with lentils and carrots, weisswurst and smoked eel served with beetroot, bacon and quail's egg.
Boopshi's is the brainchild of brothers Ed & Ben Robson, their first bricks & mortar venture, Boopshi's pays tribute to their Viennese heritage and family history with many of the dishes taken from their Oma's (Grandmother's).
The decoration is minimalist, white wall and modern table. It feels like you are in the middle of an architect office.
The team was pretty nice when I went there despite the attitude of some stupid, impolite clients. 

Schnitzels Chicken with duck egg on top
Sauerkraut
Spatzle'n'cheese
Fries 
Boopshis
31 Windmill Street 
London W1T 2JN
Twitter: @boopshis

7/10
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KENCH & BIBESY

I went to the new restaurant Kench & Bibesy three times since their opening on Long Lane near Barbican. It has been launched 2 months ago by the same team as Evans & Peel Detective Agency in Earl's Court. 
If you love Polpo or  Morito, Kench & Bibesy is definitely the next restaurant you should try. 
Forgot about Spanish or Italian food, here they serve small plates of British food with original names (Return of the tail, Pigeon Fancier, All carrot...no shtick);
All dishes cost between £4 and £7, they were all pretty good but my favourite so far was the Bellypops. 
It was a confit pork belly lollipops served with a squash purée and Bramley apple, such a delight, we ordered a second plates ! 
Bellypops: Confit pork belly lollipops, squash puree, Bramley apple.

I was also very surprised by the Kench tartare. My picture doesn't really give justice to this dish, but the meat was very blue. They seared the meat to add caramelisation, I never had a tartare like this before but I was 100% seduced ! 
Kench Tartare: Salt cured flank steak, minced & pressed onto white bread. Seared. Served very blue with a quail's egg yolk and some other bits and bobs.

Colcannon: Colcannon, beetroot remoulade & chicory with either cod cheeks or celeriac

This Pigeon, Fancier was probably the most original dish on the menu, the barney, chocolate and venison combination was very interesting. It is probably the only dish on the menu I will highly recommend to share to really enjoy it. I won't be able to have the whole plate on my own as it is too sweet. 
Pigeon, fancier: Seared pigeon breast, barley, chocolate, hazelnuts & rowan berry.
Kench chowder: actually more of a Cullen Skink....Smoked fish soup, shelled winkles, parsnip, garlic chives, fennel powder & onion ash
The fall of jerusalem :Jerusalem artichoke, chestnut & black truffle pâté. Spelt crackers, pickled walnut.
All carot ...no shtick: Rare breed carrots, sorrel hollandaise. Buttermilk & black pepper.
Return of the tail: Pulled oxtail, roast potato, braised red cabbage & pickled grapes.
The good thing about this restaurant is that there is a 'SECRET' bar downstairs, it took me few minutes the first time to find it.
If you look the picture below, you might think: "this girl is stupid the door is obviously on the left side!". So I will give you a small advice, the left door is ONLY toilet, don't waste your time going inside and look behind every doors ! 
After few minutes of pushing and pulling their decoration downstairs, I finally found the door to access the bar. 
The place is nice and cosy. Their wooden wall reminds me being in a nice chalet in the Pyrenees, having fun and drinks with friends.   
They have a large menu of nice cocktails, I tried few of them, but my favourite one was The Buck Stops Here : Tall, refreshing and fiery. Gin, Ginger Beer, Ginger Wine and lemon juice. 
Cocktails prices are a bit expensive compare to the food.
Kench & Bibesy
50-52 Long Lane
London EC1A 9EJ
Twitter: @KENCHANDBIBESY

9/10
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