Bistro Vadouvan

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Bistro Vadouvan is tucked away behind Putney High Street, a real gem of a restaurant.

Years ago I used to work near what is now called Putney Wharf, but back then was just a yard with offices above old stables. While the charm of the old buildings has gone and the area regenerated, they have been replaced by a more vibrant collection of restaurants, cafes and, towering above them, swanky apartments.

Once a month I attend an early morning networking event and, more alert than I should be at that time of the morning, have always noticed Bistro Vadouvan – in a great location just on the river.

While the décor is slightly pedestrian, the food is very definitely not. When we arrived, we received a warm welcome from the staff. The restaurant is French cuisine with elements from the Middle East, Asia and India.

For my starter I had the Middle Eastern beef tartare with smoked aubergine, tahini dressing and flaked almonds (£9.50). Exquisitely presented – finely chopped raw beef on a bed delicate salad and the soft, warm aubergine – and, really, heaven on a plate. The nearest I have been to tasting such a dish was at Petersham Nurseries. Maybe not surprising the flavours were so tangible as the chef-patron, comes from a Michelin-star background. Durga Misra worked under Eric Chavot for five years at his two Michelin star Capital hotel in Belgravia, before becoming head chef at Joe Antunes’s Kitchen and then heading up Chavot’s Brasserie Chavot in Mayfair. And now at Putney Wharf. Lucky us.

My husband, Alex went for the Green Vadouvan Salad (£8) – a combination of tenderstem broccoli and green beans tossed in coconut, lime and Vadouvan dressing. The taste lingered as the spices hit their spot and the crunchy firmness of the vegetables were enveloped in the sweet and sour of the coconut and lime. Alex, not usually one to be able to express his feelings, said the flavours just kept coming and was in raptures.

For mains, I was keen to try the lamb and Merguez winter warmer (£17.50) of slow cooked shoulder of lamb, tahini yoghurt and Yemeni zough (green chilli relish). The lamb, was tender and the zough – a first for me – was a delicious accompaniment. Alex’s Cornish Brill was poached coconut broth with shitake and enochi mushrooms, accompanied by prawn ravioli (£17.50). The flavour was all down to the sauce and the taste of fresh coriander. He said he’d died and gone to heaven. Thoughtfully, were both given spoons to mop up the juices.

We went for very different puddings – Alex chose from the specials, going for the crème fraiche custard tart with rhubarb (£6.95) while I had exotic cheesecake with passion fruit creameux (£6.50). Both were a great end to a great meal, with the rhubarb being sharp and the cheesecake (more like a lightly, fluffy mousse) sweet with a crunchy base. We can’t wait to go again.

30 Brewhouse Lane, Putney Wharf, SW15 2JX
Bookings: 020 3475 3776
bistrovadouvan.co.uk

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