REVIEW: Blanchette East, Brick Lane
WHAT: An incorrigibly authentic French restaurant hiding in plain view behind the busy market stalls of Brick Lane. The epitome of a neighbourhood gem, think Art Nouveau tiling, distressed walls and lush botanicals, but a fun surprise around every corner – from the deliciously private dining area behind the curtain at the back, to the rather naughty wallpaper depicting a giant cartoon orgy in the ladies’ loos.
Run by three French brothers called Maxime, Yannis and Malik, the restaurant’s focus lies on properly Gallic grub done simply and well. Portions are just right. No gargantuan piles of mediocre stomach fillers here, instead perhaps a perfect portion of tuna tartare and salad or a delicate crayfish bisque with thyme Chantilly.
We popped by to sample the lunch menu one Sunday afternoon, coming in at an extremely respectable two courses for £15 or three courses for £19.50. Delicate dollops of duck rillettes with cubed rose jelly and mixed seed sourdough started things off perfectly, followed by roasted chicken with Sarladaise potatoes and tarragon jus (being British, we could have done with a jug of the latter alongside, but that’s probably just us being greedy). The wine is excellent and French (little else was to be expected), and a crisp bottle of Bergerie De La Bastide went down all too quickly.
Today it’s somewhat of a rarity to enjoy real atmosphere and warmth upon stepping in a restaurant, especially if it’s not full to the rafters – but a quiet afternoon save for a French family and a few couples still had us beguiled. Eating at the bar is just as nice as a cosy table towards the back, surrounded by beautiful artwork and well thought out place settings.
Only got time for a coffee? Perch on a seat at the open window in the front, watching the world go by. For lunch or dinner, we’d recommend popping in any time.