Le Blanc is a dining experience. First, it’s a private kitchen that dishes up sturdy French food over nine courses, or more. Second, it does so within decadent, authentic, lavishly furnished surroundings. Third, it’s BYO alcohol, and so works out to be amazing value for money (around $290 per person for many, many courses).
The interior most closely resembles grandma’s house, the homely-kitchen to your left, a huge flower display in front of you, and books, vases, and nick-nacks all around. Indeed, it has a lovely mellow, fresh feel to it, with light wood walls, a clapped-out piano in the corner, and mismatched chairs for every diner. Every table is cluttered with fine crockery, vintage tablecloths and, most importantly, pots of pencils. Dim sum style, you tick what you want from each section of the menu.
Follow the warm bread basket – three kinds to choose from: rosemary focaccia, onion, sesame, baguette – with made to order, juicy, garlic butter snails and fluffy, creamy mashed potato ($39), or the excellent plate of unfussy smoked salmon and rich goose liver pate with unsalted butter ($39). However, the fresh mussels served in light white wine liquor with parsley, were unexceptional ($70).
Cleanse your palette with lemon and lime sorbet served in a shot glass ($10), before enjoying the oven-baked duck leg, roasted with herbs and duck fat, salt, pepper for two hours, the meat falling away from the bone in soft, textured shreds shrouded in crispy skin, and served with a simple salad dressed in French vinaigrette. To accompany your main, select from a small side portion of nutmeg-infused dauphinois potatoes; ratatouille ragu; or a rich, creamy mushroom risotto, which, though light, has a satisfyingly strong flavour of wild mushrooms ($30 each).
For the last course of the evening, why have one dessert when you can have two? Give the floating island a miss, (runny meringue and caramel in a sweet sauce, $39), but crunch into a warm crème brulee, with its thin, crispy caramel top and a cool, dense, vanilla centre; or a crumbly, refreshingly tangy lemon tart ($39).
Though service is somewhat erratic (a few of our orders were completely forgotten) the staff are friendly, and it is surely only a matter of a little more training. Le Blanc’s owners have a great eye for décor, and an obvious love of food, conversation and entertaining. What can we say; despite its shortfalls, we loved the Le Blanc experience. Sam Yates
6/F, 83 Wan Chai Rd, Wan Chai, 3428 5824. Daily 7pm-midnight. Meal for two: around $700.