Test Driving Carte Blanche - a mix of French and American in Hackney


What can you tell us about Carte Blanche?

It comes from one of the founders of Le Bun, Andy Taylor. Le Bun were particularly known for their burgers with French stylings and this new restaurant carries on the theme of mixing American and French cuisine. And yes, there are burgers.  

Where is it?

It's taken over the old spot that was left behind by Rita's, near London Fields. And London Fields is the nearest station - but you're probably better off getting there by bus.

cocktailsStarting with cocktails - on the left a French Negroni (Bombay Sapphire, Dubonnet, Martini Rosso), and a Beurre Noisette Whiskey Sour (Four Roses buttered, egg white, lemon) - both £9

Where should we go for a drink before or after?

if you haven't yet checked it out, head five minutes down the road to Mare Street Market, a perfect spot for a cocktail or two, As for ourselves, we popped in for a beer at the nearby Martello Hall. That said, the cocktails at Carte Blanche were also very good. Pictured above, they both came in at £9 and carried on the French/American theme with aplomb. The Beurre Noisette Whiskey Sour is the one we'd recommend starting with if you have to choose. 

Where should we sit?

The back has more space and a view of the kitchen, while the front is brighter - but there's not much space between you and the bar. Frankly, we'd suggest they get rid of the bar altogether and put more people down the front (something we've seen done to good effect in Islington's BabaBoom). 

So what's on the menu?

The French/American theme is really evident on the menu. Steak Frites makes an appearance (£16.50), as does smoked short-rib Bourgogne (£22) and there's a steak tartare with beef fat crisps too (£9). The menu is split into snacks, larger plates and buns (which has the recommended hot chicken bun on it).

As for what we had on the night...    

croquettesWe do love a good croquette - these are pigs head croquettes (£7.50), with the fennel and smoked apple being a good foil for the pork. 

cornOne of our favourite dishes of the night. We've seen a lot of corn dishes on London menus at the time of writing, and these are cod cheeks, heritage creamed corn and charcuterie (£6.50). Sometimes there are scallops in this dish, but we think the cod cheeks help elevate things. And God, the creamed corn was wonderful. 

oystersNashville fried oyster (£4 each) - we can take or leave fried oysters, but kicking off proceedings at Carte Blanche with these is a must.

maccheeseThis is the ox cheek mac and cheese (£7). It's from the snacks section but we ordered as an extra for the main course (although a truffle version for £4.50 is available). Perfectly creamy mac and cheese with intensely flavoured ox cheek make this a winner.

hake1The hake with hollandaise caviar and crispy oyster for the main course (£15). Beautifully cooked hake and that caviar hollandaise was exquisitely buttery. We may have mopped it up with fries (you won't want to waste it).

burgerAnd we had to have the burger, which we loved so much at Le Bun. This is the bone marrow and truffle cheeseburger (£10) and it's up there with the best in London. 

And how about vegans or vegetarians?

While the menu is quite meat and fish heavy - there are options available. The "Fucking Vegans" dish we're promised is prepared with more care than the name suggests, and we're also rather curious about the cauliflower buffalo wings too (£5). 

And dessert?

There is dessert - but alas wasn't on when we visited. The sole option is a tarte tatin hotpocket (£6.50)

How about drinks?

There's a short French wine list (with a single "orange" option available too) - but be warned that while the food is affordably priced, most of the wines are in the £40-50 range which we do think is a little on the high side (with the house red being £36). But there are some interesting options and specials available - so it's worth asking what's new in when you visit. And if yo uwant to go really French, you can hit the Pastis too. 


It's good to see the Rita's space in use again and there's real skill on show in the kitchen at Carte Blanche. Excellent burgers with a new take on French cuisine make this well worth a visit. 


More about Carte Blanche

Where is it? 175 Mare St, London E8 3RH

When is it open? Wednesday - Sunday

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @carteblancheldn


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