A Putney riverside restaurant that combines fresh French & Asian flavours with al fresco dining
Putney High Street has just about everything you would anticipate. There are sandwich shops and mobile phone shops and charity shops. There is a mall with a well-stocked bookshop, fresh smoothies and clothes stores that I know from experience can keep teen girls occupied for some time. But walk around the corner at the stoplight at the top of the road and turn left and you’re in Putney Wharf, a Thames-side concourse with flats, 2 pubs, a Carluccio’s and Bistro Vadouvan, a lovely grown-up place to eat with delicious food an enviable river views.
We went recently to Bistro Vadouvan and sat outside on a warm evening. The bistro combines French cooking with Middle Eastern and Asian flavours in a short but tasty menu. Classic cafe music — Dream a Little Dream for Me, Dave Brubeck’s Take 5 — plays in the background.
In a local restaurant scene marked by upscale burgers and fancy pizzas, the food here is a different and distinctive.
My husband started with the Middle Eastern beef tartare with smoked aubergine — he proclaimed it one of the best tartares he’s eaten and was happy that the aubergine gave a hint of flavour without overwhelming the dish. I started with the salad of asparagus, sprouting beans, avocado and kohlrabi. Salads so often can be predictable and a bit ho-hum, even when they are fresh and tasty. Diving into this one was delightful — the flavour was bright, with small segments of asparagus, creamy chunks of avocado and spicy radish slices so thin they looked like stained glass. There was the crunch of sprouts and slivered carrots and little seeds, giving it texture and dimension.
Moving on to mains, my husband had the poached brill and prawn ravioli. The translucent bundles were presented in a coconut broth, with mushrooms, spring onions and chili. It was warm and meaty, perfectly poached. I couldn’t resist having a second starter as a main: seabream ceviche with red onion and celery.
We tried the rosemary fries as well. The size was somewhere between shoestring and chunky, presented in a little metal pot with a dusting of salt and rosemary — yummy.
We thought we were going for the chocolate and bitter orange, until we heard one of the specials: strawberry & hibicus jelly with black currant sorbet and lime custard. It was as good as it sounds.
A restaurant of two cuisines and two friends
The restaurant’s patrons grew up in the same town in India but only got to know each other years later at hospitality college.
Chef patron Durga Misra has worked at illustrious restaurants around London, including the two Michelin-starred Capital Hotel in Belgravia under Eric Chavot for five years. Co-patron Uttam Tripathy came to the UK after training with Radisson hotel group in India. He’s been patron and maître d’ at the hugely successful Potli in Hammersmith since its opening in 2011.
The look: Deep teal banquettes, a high long table in front of the bar, a sun-drenched seating area opposite, and outside patio tables. The view of the Thames and Putney Bridge is fantastic
Tasty highlight: Everything was delicious but I particularly loved my asparagus, sprouts, avocado and kohlrabi salad
Perfect for: Families with older children (there’s no kids menu), date night or dining with friends
Child-friendly? The staff overall is extremely solicitous and friendly. You could easily bring a baby in a pushchair or a foodie teen, especially on weekends for brunch
Dress code: Smart casual.
Price: Starters from £3.50, mains from £15.00, desserts from £5.50 (including floating island!)
Reservations are suggested, but there were plenty of walk-ups when we were there.
+44 203 475 3776 / firstname.lastname@example.org
30 Brewhouse Lane / Putney Wharf / London / SW15 2JX
Open Tuesday dinner, Wednesday to Friday lunch & dinner, Saturday brunch & dinner, Sunday brunch menu only
Jenography’s had a complementary review meal at Bistro Vadouvan. All opinions are my own.