Carte Blanche | Hackney Restaurant
Sometimes they take years.
And for chef Andy Taylor, who founded street-food burger operation Le Bun in 2013, those years have been leading up to his second venture: Carte Blanche.
A full-blown restaurant this time around, the food follows the same lead as Le Bun, blending American-style dishes with French techniques (hence the name) in frequently creative ways. The venue itself is on Hackney’s Mare Street, putting it conveniently between Kansas Smitty’s and the St John at Hackney Brewery. It’s a narrow sleeve of a space that runs along their bar, then opens up into a main dining area at the back, with stark white & muted blue walls providing a pleasing counterplay to each-other. Here’s what’s going on with the menu:
There are no starters, merely ‘snacks’ to properly whet your appetite for the main courses. They exemplify the Franco-American marriage that drives the kitchen, with the standout being their Nashville fried oyster which comes with a hefty kick of chilli oil. Then there’s the similarly delicious ox mac ‘n’ cheese; and some hot wings with roquefort.
Going larger, there’s a delightfully improbable-yet-tasty fried chicken & caviar (inspired by a David Chang recipe, the logic is that you’re simply replacing the blini with a hunk of fried chicken); a skate wing with Old Bay seasoning; and a smoked short-rib cooked Bourgogne-style, that is, like a beef bourguignon. And if you need that chicken-n-caviar hit on a Sunday morning, you’ll be glad to know they also run a ludicrous bottomless brunch, with free-flowing cocktails and Bloody Maries (sporting cheeseburger garnishes) alongside.
The grape hooch is all natural here, meaning you’ll see a lot of unfamiliar labels on the list (Domaine de la Tournelle Poulsard Arbois L’uva Arbosiana, anyone?). It also means that the wines themselves come in a veritable rainbow of colours, ranging from red, to white, to orange, and everything in between with taste profiles to match – they’re earthy, sour, ripe, and always interesting. They’re frequently very rare, and in the interests of matching the right one up to your food, you should definitely ask the somm for a recommendation.
In fact, it’s probably best just to give them carte blanche.
NOTE: Carte Blanche is open now. You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right HERE.
Carte Blanche | 175 Mare St, E8 3RH