Wearing our medals with pride (Valentina included) the staff at Blanca more than happily accommodated our less than scrubbed up appearance and slightly sweaty brows. We may not have "looked" the part but they sure made us feel it. Valentina felt very at home too......
OK, where to start? Oysters, naturally. Beautifully fresh and topped with the most incredible of Asian flavours. Even Georges who is not much a fan of oysters was sucking his fingers clean. The flavours were super fresh and zingy and I especially loved the cold, crunchy granita on the oyster Valentina has her beady eyes on. Might need to wait a few more months baby girl.
"BLANCA by name, definitely NOT Blanca by nature."
I love Asian cooking for how perfectly they balance their flavours. Sweet, sour, salt and spice. This next dish was a brilliant example of that. The bonito pastrami was next level with it's sticky sweet sauce, tangy cream and salty fish all married together to create an elegantly complex and delicious dish. And definitely the prettiest.
I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that one of my favourite foods EVER are duck pancakes. I know, it doesn't get much better. Or does it? Imagine a duck pancake..........but fried! Dreams really do exist. A potato croqueta filled with hoisin marinaded duck and an almond, honey and cinnamon cream. My first thought on taking a bite was that it was quite unusual and it was heavy on the cinnamon. However, once my tastebuds understood what was going on I thoroughly enjoy it. It was a fun take on a popular favourite.
Right, ignore me for one second. Look behind me to the left. See Valentina? See that face? That is a face of utter dismay at the realisation that she wasn't getting a bite of the beautifully bouncy Blanca buns. Oh dear me! These buns are heavenly. We ordered one of each (although on reflection I think 10 of each would've been more sufficient) of the softshell crab, beef cheek and shiitake mushroom. The bun itself is more dense than others I've eaten but without effecting the fluffy texture you'd expect in a bun. I put it down to their robust, overflowing fillings needing a sturdy little sleeping bag. Hands down softshell crab took the number one spot with the other two following very closely behind.
So this next dish wasn't one that we ordered. This next dish was a very pleasant surprise. This dish was a gift, a gift from the chef himself. According to him this dumpling was made incorrectly and therefore couldn't be served to the original orderers. Some may see this as sloppy seconds, however, we saw it as lucky leftovers. And for a dish that didn't make the pass I'd love to know what it tastes like when made correctly. It tasted amazing! The broth was incredibly clean and light with a great chilli kick and the texture of the dumpling was super silky. Give me a "poorly" made dumpling any day!
We closed the show with some epic side dishes. Miso eggplant with grains, mushrooms, kombu and sesame hummus. I thought this was a really clever fusion mixing Asian with Middle Eastern. The miso turned sticky and almost caramel in taste which paired amazingly with the charred eggplant. The roasted pumpkin with kombu butter, persimmon, black garlic and pumpkin puree was one of the most beautiful dishes we ate. I loved the pop of yellow and delicately sliced persimmon. Flavour wise it wasn't my favourite of the bunch but if every other dish was a 10 this was a 9, so still pretty good.
Even though little Miss V wasn't able to enjoy the delicacies set before us (although I'm pretty sure her daddy gave her a cheeky lick of the potato croqueta) she has given Blanca a 3 bottle rating in our new Baby Appetite scoreboard. As well as telling all you lovely readers how much I love (or not so much) the restaurants I dine at, V and I will be including a baby rating on how baby friendly they are. Because that.............is my life now.
Baby Appetite Rating
Their response to Valentina and our ginormous pram was extremely welcoming. They did everything they could to get us a comfortable spot.
Plenty of outdoor, pram friendly seating.
They describe themselves as being a place for everyone (families included) despite the expensive looking interior and they were more than happy to accommodate us even in sweaty, post City2Surf gym gear.
Highchairs are also provided as well as a baby changing facility downstairs next to Harris Farm.
On busy sittings it might be tricky to maneuver the pram between seats.
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