Restaurant review: Blanchette, Soho, central London

Blanchette is a French bistro offering small, tapas-style dining in the heart of Soho, tucked behind the manic Oxford Street. I'd heard of it before but it wasn't really on my radar so when one of my friends suggested it for a Sunday night dinner I was game.

The waitress explained that we should order 2-3 dishes each which I feel is standard for many small plates restaurants. There were three of us so we opted for a few snacks along side a couple of meat dishes and sides. So what did we order? To start we had a bowl of olives and a brown bag of crusty bread with salted butter,  quickly followed by crispy Longhorn beef with a creamy parsnip puree and a favourite truffle honey drizzle. That dish was probably my favourite of the bunch. The other meat dish was a tender braised lamb shoulder with anchovy, rosemary and a soubise sauce - a buttery onion sauce. For the sides we had delicious spiced Moroccan spiced peppers on top of a grilled chewy flatbread with a perfectly poached egg. Next up was a green bean salad with aged comté cheese and a walnut and shallot dressing. This was incredibly moreish. Of course no French meal is complete with cheese to finish. I opted for a generous plate of aged comté again as I couldn't get enough. It came with plenty of crisp breads and a mound of chutney. Just what was needed to finish off the meal!

We had a two hour slot but they very kindly allowed us to stay for 2.5 hours which was so lovely. Quite often in London they can be very strict, sometimes rushing you along with still 20 minutes to go, so it was a nice touch that they were pretty laid back. The waitress was very attentive and knowledgeable which always makes a dining experience so much better. Blanchette isn't cheap and it can work out very expensive if you are quite greedy - as I always am. But the quality of the food is very high and the presentation looks great, so I do really think it is worth it. I don't very often opt for French cuisine when I eat out so it made a really lovely change.

How to include snippets of memories in your home

One of my favourite things to do in the world is to travel and I love to have little memories of my trips around the house to remind me of the places I've been. It could be a trinket from a place far away, a Polaroid picture from a city we've been to or a guide book I've poured over as I extensively researched where exactly we're going to eat. Always the most important thing when visiting somewhere new!

Long before we moved out I started to collect prints for a gallery wall. It's been years in progress and I don't get them for every single place, just the cities that have had the biggest impact on me. Sometimes I buy them overseas but sometimes I buy them online here in the U.K. I don't always have time to trawl through shops whilst I'm on holiday!

Desenio got in touch with me to see if I wanted to add to it with some of their own prints and frames. I went straight to their Maps and Cities and came across some gems. 

First up is this Barcelona travel poster of the famous Sagrada Familia. Sometimes you can take beautiful architecture for granted and it starts to all look the same. One European old town tends to blend into another sometimes doesn't it? But the first time I saw this cathedral it took my breath away. I don't think I've ever seen such a stunning building, I was in awe. I'm still gutted we got our times confused and missed our time slot to go inside. One day!

Next up is this Berlin 69 poster. The cool retro design really caught my eye and I thought it summed up the German city perfectly. Berlin was the city that kickstarted my travel bug and it has a very special place in my heart. It's just so unbelievably cool and filled with incredible history and the best food. I'm a sucker for hipster cities!

Finally, this Washington DC skyline poster was my final choice. Washington DC was one of those cities that I am so glad I visited but I'm not sure I would ever visit again. It has a strange vibe that I just can't put my finger on. But I loved seeing the White House in person and the Lincoln memorial. It felt like I was in Forest Gump and was a real pinch me moment. 

The code “ASTORYOFAGIRL” gives 25% off posters* on all of our sites between October 23rd and 25th. 
*Except for frames and handpicked-/collaboration posters


Buying a house 101: why you should opt for a house survey

Buying a house is a minefield and it can be hard to navigate through. There's a hell of a lot of things to tick off the list as you're going through the process. One of those things is to decide if you would like a house-buyer's survey.

There are three different surveys to choose from and you will be able to arrange them through your bank with whom you have you mortgage with. The three include:

1. Condition report
This is the most basic and cheapest survey you can have. It won't provide you with too much detail but it will let you know a summery of the property's defects and possible risks that may occur in the future. It usually costs around £300.

2. Home buyers report
This is the one which we opted for. It will immediately let you know of any obvious major problems such as rot, subsidence and structural damage. Keep in mind the surveyor will not investigate too deeply so they won't lift up floor boards or move furniture top get a closer look. This option usually costs around £450.

3. Building Survey
Priced from £500, this is the most expensive one out of the three. It is the most extensive and will provide you with a detailed report once they have completed it. the surveyor will go into the loft, check behind walls, check above ceilings and look between floors. They will also include the best advice on repairs and provide estimated timings and costs.

I couldn't recommend having a survey done enough. When you go to a house viewing it can be very overwhelming especially if you're being shown around by the vendors. You don't want to appear rude so you don't really investigate, instead taking the house at face value. Even when you go view it a second or third time you never really take it all in. And unless you're a tradesman, how on earth are you suppose to know about the roof? Or the wiring? Or the boiler? The survey investigates all of this and can really help you when you start budgeting. You will know exactly what you will have to replace and what can wait a few more years. The information will be invaluable.

I hope you're enjoying this house buying series! Is there anything else you would like to know?


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