Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dining in Style: JOE's

This one is for the foodies and the fashionistas. This week we visited Draycott Avenue to dine at the beautifully appointed JOE's, the stylish eatery of the sleek and chic fashion line Joseph.
The brainchild of a fashion house, the interior did not disappoint. Following the elegant but pared down aesthetic of the clothing line, JOE's features crisp white tablecloths, minimalist wooden and red leather chairs, and a selection of beautiful wooden sideboards and bookshelves. A well curated group of black and white Lennon and McCartney photographs adorn the wall, and the bookshelves boast a carefully chosen array of fashion magazines and vintage bottles of red wine. JOE's manages to look stylish without being imposing: dare I say it, it's actually rather warm and homely. (Perhaps if your home has been featured in Vogue!)

The kitchen has recently come under the stewardship of Anglo-Greek chef Maria Elia, and the menu is both enticing and innovative. There is a wonderful range of both rich and diet friendly dishes (sides are ordered separately - a must for the body conscious "ladies who lunch" crowd, who seem to be big fans of this place), and we were torn by many delicious sounding options.

What we ate:
To start:
Chilli and ginger prawns, crown prince squash cous cous
Pan-fried scallops, morcilla, roasted apple creme fraiche
For mains:
Pan-fried sea bass with raw beetroot, herbs and toasted seed cous cous with yoghurt dressing
Octopus, tomato and fennel pasta rags (sugar snaps, lemon butter and almonds)
Pheasant, puy lentils, celeriac and hazelnuts (hand cut chips, rosemary salt)
Rounding off:
Amaretti, pear and chocolate tart

Kicking off the meal with olives and slightly oily (my favourite) garlic crisp-bread, the starters were both fantastic. My pan-friend scallops with morcilla (Spanish black pudding) with roasted apple and creme fraiche was really well balanced, with the apple and creme fraiche lightening the rich and juicy flavours of the scallops and morcilla. Sarah's prawns were juicy, and the dish was full of interesting and warming flavours. Both dishes were well presented on smart pieces of slate.

For me the piece de resistance was the sea bass with raw beetroot. Thank goodness the kitchen insisted we give it a try. The sea bass was done perfectly: well textured and easy to prise away with a fork. The tang of the raw beetroot and yoghurt dressing was the perfect complement and the dish was satisfying without being too weighty (a perfect option is you're hoping to squeeze into some of Joseph's skinny leather trousers!).

Both our mains were fairly rich (I've never been able to muster the art of dining 'light' whilst in a restaurant) but my pheasant was a brilliant seasonal option. The celeriac and hazelnuts gave an extra lightness and crunch, whilst the bird was nice and tender. My hand cut chips were size XXL and every so slightly oily. Delicious and satisfying none the less.

The octopus and fennel pasta offered an interesting combination of flavours, but Sarah found it perhaps a little on the heavy side, although beautifully cooked. A great dish if you're coming in for just one course, perhaps? Certainly I enjoyed the few mouthfuls I eagerly took from her plate!

By the time we were re-presented with the menu to consider desserts we were both pretty stuffed. However, we were unable to resist the chocolate, pear and amaretti tart (two spoons!). The taste of almond comes through quite strongly, but the combination of chocolate and pear has long been a favourite of mine. Served with a dollop of ice cream, our stomach didn't quite allow for us to do it justice, but if you find yourself ready for a third course at JOE's and want a recommendation - we reckon it's pretty much on the money. Just be prepared to roll yourself out of the restaurant afterwards.

Talking of money, it's well worth mentioning that the prices are anything but eye-watering, and, considering the fashion credentials of the place, the portions aren't tiny size-6 affairs either. Starters ranged from 5.50 to 9.95 whilst the most expensive main (a hefty tagliata steak) will set you back 20.50. They also offer a good value prix-fixe menu at lunchtime.

126 Draycott Avenue,
South Kensington,
London SW3 3AH

Joe's on Urbanspoon

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