Few would disagree that Marylebone is among London’s most enchanting quarters. Gastronomically, however, it usually disappoints, owing to ordinary food at premium prices. This was my view – from which I was immovable – until visiting Blandford Comptoir (“BC”).
BC occupies the corner of Blandford Street and Marylebone High Street, having opened last year. The feel of the interior is sort of “standard bistro”, with just a hint of chic thrown in – such as with the use of modish light fittings and an imposing mirrored wall. There is a cosy atmosphere, helped (for better or worse) by the quite compact spacing of the tables. A nearby group of six was more than audible from my spot by the window.
The manager was present and, it was discovered, prides himself on limiting the mark up on wines. The list is towards impressive and just varied enough to enthuse serious wine drinkers. Of note is a mini menu via which certain wines are served using the Coravin system. Its reds included a 1982 Chateau Palmer, a 1981 Tondonia from Rioja and a Gevrey-Chambertin in a more recent vintage. An intriguing 2006 Bolgheri, which turned out to be inky and elegant, accompanied dinner.
At £20, it was the fairest price/quality/portion size ratio that I’ve so far experienced in a W1 postcode.
The menu at BC is short, Italian in influence and priced incredibly fairly. I began with the parmesan and truffle tagliatelle: rich, deliciously al dente and deep yellow in colour.
The timing, size and presentation of the next dish were all perfect. Whereas miserly main courses in the nouvelle style are ubiquitous in London, BC does things generously. Moreover, the quality of the food surpassed expectations. I had the guinea fowl, with cavolo nero and pancetta, and couldn’t fault it. Served off the bone and in abundance, the fowl’s meat was moist and encased in browned skin. The cavolo leaves, glossed in olive oil, decked the plate like Caesar’s headgear. I took pleasure in spearing bird and greens together to make heaped forkfuls of flavour. At £20, it was the fairest price/quality/portion size ratio that I’ve so far experienced in a W1 postcode.
While not worthy of long commentary, the bits and pieces enjoyed afterwards – some Italian cheese, cups of coffee, etc. – were in line with the wider experience and made for a mellow passage into Sunday evening as the night drew in.
Throughout the meal, service was reasonably polished. A sense of bonhomie surfaced when the manager sparked up a chat with me. He explained that he’d influenced the Coravin list and planned to update it regularly. While opinion is divided on the Coravin wine extraction method, I can only see the availability of rare wines by the glass as a good thing – and another string to BC’s bow.
If you’re in the market for hearty dining with a touch of class, you could do a lot worse than booking a spot at BC.
1 Blandford Street
by C Ley