Blancharu – Potts Point
Posted on November 19, 2012 by WX
It’s not everyday that one would find a 7 course degustation menu for just $88 at a restaurant headed by a pedigree chef. Even less so when one realises that the pedigree involves chefs such as Joel Robuchon and restaurants the likes of Galileo, Bilson’s and Ampersand.
Yet this is exactly what you would find here at Blancharu, a Japanese-French fusion bistro founded by Chef Harunobu Inukai, located in Elizabeth Bay. One look at the degustation menu and you’ll realise that it is more French inspired than it is Japanese. There is no sashimi of any sort or uninhibited use of miso-topped grilling. It may have lost its One Hat standing from back in 2010, but the restaurant is still bustling along and remains particularly attractive to the Japanese crowd.
The menu starts off with Eggplant Caviar with Crab & Avocado – smooth eggplant mousse-like mixture wrapped around a core of shredded crab meat, and topped with a layer of incredibly delicate and smooth avocado cream. The layering of flavours was deceptively rich and intensely flavoured, but able to remain cool and refreshing on the palate.
Course two was a dainty little skewer of Yakitori Quail Breast with Miso & Sansyo. The quail was definitely on the small side, but only when looked at comparatively to the acidic sansyo salad on the side. Sansyo (or sansho) is actually a type of Japanese pepper tree and the leaf is often used as a garnish for grilled meats or eel. Texturally speaking it is rather reminiscent of wakame and the acidity in its use here cuts through the sticky sweet miso nicely.
“It looks like a watermelon!”
“It looks like a kids’ toy!”
Course three was a case of curious and curiouser: Gazpacho with Summer Vegetables & Pea Mousse. Perhaps intended as a palate cleanser for the quail, the dish was a bit of a hit and miss for some at the table. The colours were vibrant, colourful and incredibly fun, but somewhat confusing in its placement in the progression of the degustation. The gazpacho itself was quite garlicky – which was a hit with garlic-lovers like myself, but less so with others. Flavour profile was quite flat although one could tell the thought process behind to amalgamate the buttery pea mousse with the tart gazpacho and for the crunch to be provided by the vegetables. To its credit it was incredibly refreshing, and perhaps had the day been a little warmer we would have appreciated it more.
Next up was the Prawn Mousse & Oyster in Deep Fried Kataifi with Basil Sauce. Kataifi (pronounced kah-tah-ee-fee) is a type of sweet Middle Eastern phyllo pastry that resembles vermicelli and is traditionally used in sweet treats with almonds and other nuts. Here it is wrapped tightly around a single oyster that is embedded within a smooth prawn paste, then deep fried to provide a lightly cooked, perfectly crispy morsel of oyster goodness. Texturally the oyster and prawn mousse combination inside reminds me of Hokkien Or-ah-jian (or Oyster Omelette) and the basil sauce smells stronger than it tastes and offers a welcomed aromatic complement to the dish.
The Poisson du Jour (Fish of the Day) was a piece of “Cod with Cauliflower Puree in an Aromatic Sauce”. The fish was unfortunately quite heavily overcooked and turned out rather stringy. Either that or they used frozen fish. Meanwhile the aromatic sauce had a strong aniseed flavour, much like a thick Asian braise that has been heavily reduced and enriched with a splash of vinegar. It worked very well against the creamy cauliflower puree and in my very honest opinion, may have very well saved the dish.
After the previous course we eagerly awaited our final savoury course: Beef with Mushroom Duxelles & Truffle Sauce. The duxelles – traditionally a chopped up mix of mushroom, onion and shallots – was nicely lathered on the beef, keeping it incredibly moist throughout the cooking process. The cut of meat may not have been optimal, with the occasional gristle getting in the way of the perfect slice, but overall the beef was perfectly cooked and extremely buttery and juicy in flavour. The strings of deep fried potato was nicely lifted by the fragrant truffle sauce and provided a nice crunch, whilst the potato galette beneath the beef helped us all mop up every last drip of sauce left on the plate.
The Dessert du Jour (Dessert of the Day) was a dish called “Blueberry Cream & Cheese”. Essentially a deconstructed blueberry cheesecake with a rhubarb sorbet, it was my favourite dish of the evening. It’s a pretty little thing, and the faint scent of lavender from the lavender caramel disc on top gives it a really refined composition. The blueberry cream was lovely and light, not too sweet, which also provided a nice binding agent for the nutmeg crumble beneath. Finish it off with a spoonful of the palate-cleansing sorbet and you’ll be ready to do it all over again.
Blancharu1/21 Elizabeth Bay Rd
Potts Point, NSW 2011 Tel: (02) 9360 3555