RESTAURANT REVIEW: Venetia van Kuffeler visits Julie’s Restaurant after an extensive refurbishment in its 50th year
THE LAST TIME I’d been to Julie’s Restaurant was about 10 years ago. A large party of us were in the private room celebrating the night before a great friend’s wedding. The venue had been chosen as it was the same restaurant where the bride’s parents had met 35 years earlier. Julie’s is just that kind of place. Sadly, my friend’s marriage wasn’t meant to be (though thankfully they’re both happy with other partners now). The restaurant however is a rare example of longevity in London’s fickle dining market. Last year, Julie’s marked 50 years since it first opened its doors in Holland Park. It has long been a favourite with neighbours and the international set alike. But much of this is due to the family story behind it.
Owners Tim and Cathy Herring purchased Numbers 135 and 137 Portland Road in 1967, and successful interior designer Julie Hodgess opened the doors of Julie’s Restaurant in November 1969. The great and the good soon flocked to Julie’s door and a legendary establishment was born.
Tim and Cathy took over the restaurant in 1972, promising to keep the original spirit of Julie’s alive, with Julie herself continuing as their permanent consultant. Fifty years on, Julie’s has had a large refurbishment and reorganisation, and Julie Hodgess is once again responsible for the distinctive interiors. A state-of-the-art kitchen now sits alongside the iconic Julie’s furnishing and decorative features. The results are chic, cosy and intimate, but more than anything the place has a supremely welcoming atmosphere.
The Chef Patron Shay Cooper was previously awarded a Michelin star at his last two establishments. The operation continues to be a family affair, as the owners’ grandson, Ralph Herring joins the team in the kitchen. Building on a legacy, together they have produced a modern British menu, including interesting dishes like sea bream tartare,
pickled red cabbage, celery, cucumber and lovage dressing or buttermilk fried quail with white miso emulsion. Main courses of Creedy Carver duck, salt baked turnips, sprout tops, quince and sunflower seed or the Loch Duart salmon, grilled leak hearts, crispy oyster and horseradish certainly caught my eye. After some deliberation, I chose the charred kale risotto, Devonshire crab and horseradish butter followed by roast Scottish cod, salsify, potatoes, cockles and chicken butter. Both outstanding, well-balanced and flavourful dishes.
Being lunchtime, we thought it best to save pudding for the next visit, along with a drink at Julie’s glamourous bar, which now serves a magnificent cocktail list, that includes a particularly tempting Twinkle: vodka, elderflower and Champagne. Don’t mind if I do.
Found in a picturesque corner of West London, this classical neighbourhood restaurant is the perfect spot for a laidback lunch or celebratory dinner. The terrace certainly promises to come into its own in the summer months. And so the legend of Julie’s Restaurant lives on…
JULIE’S RESTAURANT AND CHAMPAGNE BAR 135 PORTLAND ROAD, LONDON W11 4LW