Words Charlotte Johnstone
Putney has been crying out for an independent brasserie-style restaurant and one has arrived. An ‘anyone-anytime’ buzzy enclave of personality on Lacy Road. It’s the brainchild of George Porter, Jules’ owner and heir to Highclere Castle. You’ll know this from its starring role in Downton Abbey.
Breaking away from his background in finance, he took inspiration from the passion of an American restaurateur and family friend. Luckily for us, he decided to hone in on a piece of the pie.
Sipping on a fragrant Lemongrass Fizz I gaze around to see the beautifully designed room filling up with evening guests. A couple of guys with a beer at the bar, a group of ladies catching up on the high tables, couples in the cushioned bay, families at the tables and so on. The desire to create a universal space for sharing tapas-style dishes over drinks has been captured.The menu surprises me. I’m expecting simple sharers but – for a small menu – it’s full of Asian-influenced European tapas, small plates, charcuterie and cheese boards to boot.
Plate after plate of interesting dishes start to arrive. The delightfully colourful fillet of smoked sardine with a mango vinaigrette smashes the limp, tinned stereotype out of the box. And the compressed tomato cubes with Shiitake mushroom crumbs and foam are sublime. A real winner with my foodie friend is the Spanish Morcilla with spiced apple compote.Fish lovers will enjoy head chef Alvaro San Millan’s simple yet varied approach to seafood dishes. A delicious hunk of roast octopus appears before us, closely followed by red tuna carpaccio with seaweed garnish. If his citrus cabbage is on the menu you must try it, it’s his mother’s recipe. Although I’m told the menu will be ever evolving to keep locals interested.Each dish is a smorgasbord of flavours but some were quite overpowering and it became quite a rich affair. Notably it was the presentation that stole the show – and the desserts. I have never deliberated over a dessert menu for quite so long as I did here and eventually our loquacious waitress, Valentina Risdonne, brought us all three; rice pudding, white chocolate sponge with floral infusion and creamy chocolate milk and passion fruit on light cacao sauce.
Oh what fun it is when a dish comes with purple foam and edible flowers, but the highlight of the whole evening has to be the creamy chocolate milk and passion fruit on light cacao sauce – “like a boat of deliciousness floating on a sea of chocolate.”
Jules, 5 Lacy Road, Putney, London SW15 1NH; 020 8780 3033