Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
Joeâs Restaurant is a secluded nook in Draycott Avenue in an area which would have been perfect for attracting the passing tourist trade in itâs earlier incarnation as Joeâs Cafe. The new incarnation is something of an experiment: a pet project of Joseph corporationâs CEO Sara Ferrero, with a crack kitchen team headed by high-class chef Maria Elia. Anyone who remembered the venue in its old incarnation will be surprised.
The restaurant now has a cool and sophisticated atmosphere, definitely grown-up but not stuffy or boring. Maybe it comes from the abstract music that they constantly play over the tables. The interior is a restrained palate of brown marble and white walls, with shelves of magazines and vintage wines and portraits of musicians like The Beatles creating a homey kind of feel.
Weâre invited in and I was surprised to notice that there are only two other tables filled up on a Saturday night. The waitress explained to me that they are usually much more full in the afternoon because their lunch menu is popular amongst City traders. This felt a bit like a missed opportunity to me, although at least the lack of other customers meant that the service was assured to be impeccable. The staff were very attentive and polite to us throughout the meal, although the fact that there were so few other people meant that their fussing over us did sometimes reach mother hen levels.
For starters, I had pan-fried pigeon with greengage tart tatin and agresto sauce (Â£7.95), while my friend had Cornish mackerel cooked two ways with gooseberry chutney (Â£6.25). The pigeon is delicious, pink in the middle and with a melt-in-the-mouth texture, and the sauce adds a great cheeky piquancy to the whole dish. The agresto sauce (with walnuts) is apparently an ancient Italian recipe and is similar to pesto, but with a sweeter edge. The tart made the starter quite filling by itself, so with all the filling dishes later I was left struggling to finish the whole meal.
The next course was a high-class take on an English classic: fish of the day (lemon soul, Â£19), served very simply on a bed of lettuce with a side dish of hand-cut chips in porcini salt (Â£3.75), washed down with copious wine. The soul was brilliantly prepared with a rich and satisfying flavor which is uncommon in that type of fish (I though my grandma made the best soul in the world, but Iâd say this comes close) and the chips were very savoury and stomach filling.
Despite really liking my main I was a bit jealous of my friendâs meal, which was a terrific runner bean, tomato and feta baklava with barlotti beans and a leaf salad (Â£16.75 total).The baklava had a great pastry shell and was a little bit like a very mild, savoury pickle, with the beans adding some really nice body and texture to the meal. The whole dish shows that the kitchen staff have great invention and can prepare terrific food from simple ingredients .
On the staffâs recommendation, I choose treacle tart with peach gel and vanilla ice cream for dessert, whilst my friend had the summer berry pudding with frozen fruit yogurt (both Â£3.50). Again, I felt like Iâd gotten worst half of the course since the frozen yoghurt was so fantastic! The treacle tart was a dark brown delight which has enough flavor to counterbalance its inevitable sweetness, and is perfectly presented, not gooey in the slightest. We finished up with some of the restaurantâs own blend of tea, which has a hint of mint in it and was nice in a minimalistic way.
After the meal, I talked with the assistant manager Federica and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the cooking that evening was done by the sous-chefs Daniel and Andrea instead of the more famous Maria (although the menu was the same). The meals certainly tasted professional enough to have been cooked by the head chef, which shows that the kitchen staff really have their act together.
Our drinks came to the fairly minimal price of Â£17, not too bad for a meal for two including wine and after-dinner drinks. Even with us choosing some of the more expensive dishes on the menu, the restaurantâs relatively restrained prices make it a good place for families who want a decent night out without breaking the bank. The South Kensington location makes it Overall, Joeâs Restaurant has great potential as a venue and is definitely worth checking out if you want a classy meal out in Central London.