A new French-American restaurant has taken over the site once occupied by the cult dining destination Rita’s — on Mare Street, in Hackney. Carte Blanche, by chef Andy Taylor, will open on 13 July, fusing what Taylor says his love of American comfort food, like burgers, fried chicken and tacos, with traditional French preparations, such as hollandaise and red wine jus. Big flavours, then. And the second Hackney restaurant in two days, which seems intent on ripping up the rule book.
Taylor, a former musician, is best known for his co-founding the street food burger outfit, Le Bun. Le Bun appears no longer to exist, which has paved the way for Taylor to bring to east London the combination of “indulgent French flavours with American comfort food classics.”
“I want to create a place where you can get caviar on your fried chicken, with a glass of great wine and maybe rounded off with a glass of whiskey,” said Taylor who understands the success and popularity of David Chang’s Momofuku classic. “Carte Blanche will be a relaxed space, with anything from AC/DC to Old School Hip Hop on the stereo and exciting French American cooking on the menu which is no longer limited to burgers.”
Readers of the announcement are told that Taylor has “created gluttony-emboldening dishes, that combine staples of households across the Midwest and Southern States with an appreciation for Gallic flavours.”
Translation, by way of two dishes: Oysters, caviar hollandaise, and maple syrup-cured bacon; and a “southwestern spin on Paris bistro classics”: Foie gras and escargot tostadas.
From France, guests might also be transported to Louisiana, or Nashville — two other, perhaps more abstract, sources of inspiration for Taylor. “Diners can follow with lip-burning local specialty hot chicken in a soft white bun, or unctuous pork jowl, smoked beets and butter,” he says.
Wines, as might be expected, will be natural. Ones, we’re told Taylor “enjoyed — or perhaps over-enjoyed — in the back-street bars of the French capital.” Small-scale producers— including Brendon Tracey, a winemaker “inspired by the fuck-all/do-anything attitude of California punk in the late 1970’s” — have been selected for “unusual pours.” Not-quite-‘twisted’ cocktails will see “classics” given the “Carte Blanche revamp,” like beurre noisette whisky sour and a French negroni, which will use Dubonnet instead of Campari.
The 50-cover restaurant will include a small bar area with a more limited menu. The restaurant will be open in the evenings from 5pm until midnight Wednesday to Friday; and 11am until midnight at weekends. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.