Mashing up filthy foods with la-di-da ingredients has been de-rigueur since wagyu beef slipped its perfectly marbled flesh ‘tween our burger patties, and this high-brow-low-brow culinary style has got itself a home at Carte Blanche in Hackney. After his much-loved burger experience, Le Bun and a fast food pop-up with Kelis, Carte Blanche founder Andy Taylor turned an unassuming Mare Street address into a temple of American comfort food classics fused with fine French flavours.
Inside, a sleek counter-bar props up Aperol Spritz-swilling diners, while the Tardis-like restaurant spreads backwards opening out to a generous space with ashen-blue walls and pink leather banquettes. Industrial lighting dangles from the ceiling while Tupac-era hip-hop blasts over the chatter of Carte Blanche’s resolutely Millennial clientele.
The menu itself is ridiculous. Giant hulks of deep-fried chicken are paired with caviar. Mac n cheese comes with shavings of truffle. Slippery oysters are deep-fried Nashville-style. So far, so indulgent. But it’s the less-gimmicky dishes that shine. A smoked short rib beef Bourgogne has been lovingly cooked for hours in a rich jus and falls off the bone. Tender cod cheeks float atop heritage creamed corn. There’s a playful sense of humour, too. Amid the meaty menu, Carte Blanche’s solitary, token healthy dish is called – rather chortlesomely – ‘Fucking Vegans’.
A small-but-sweet wine list presents a selection of all natural, organic wines. Pleasant but jarringly expensive in comparison to the other excellent drinks. A Beurre Noisette Whisky Sour is a slinky little number, creamy and rich with a tart kick, while a French Negroni swaps Campari for Dubonnet lending it a Franco twist.