Neighbourhood restaurant Julie’s opened in W11 in November 1969. Named after its owner and interior designer, Julie Hodgess, the restaurant caught the eye of rock stars, Hollywood celebrities and royalty, including the Rolling Stones, Sir Paul McCartney, Kate Moss and Diana, Princess of Wales. What took place behind its curtained booths is the stuff of legend.
In 1972, Tim and Cathy Herring took over the restaurant, maintaining its popularity until 2014, when the site closed for maintenance. A short project turned into a five-year closure. Now, Julie’s has reopened with the Herrings still in charge, a redesign by Julie herself and a kitchen run by one of the Queen’s favourite chefs, Shay Cooper. Locals and longtime fans have been salivating since news of its reopening hit last month.
On a lovely corner of a residential street in West London – the kind where you find yourself shamelessly staring into the kitchens and lounges of the lovely houses – Julie’s occupies a maze of quirky spaces and a stretch of pavement, which will no doubt be heaving by next May. Julie is responsible for the decadent interiors, which retain original stained-glass windows and gothic wood carvings as well as a honeycomb of dining alcoves – complete with those famous curtains – downstairs. Design updates include colourful Pakistani kilim-covered banquette seating and a shiny new bar upstairs. It all makes for an intimate dining experience, with both groups and couples able to choose to take in the ambience of the restaurant or discreetly hole up with a feast.
Must-order mains include: salt marsh lamb served with pressed cabbage, garlic potatoes, crisp lamb breast and preserved lemon; ox cheek with smoked cauliflower and green pepper and cucumber relish; and roast Cornish cod with cuttlefish, bacon, chicken and mushroom dressing. Portions are generous but not gluttonous, so you’ll have space for one of the dainty desserts. We recommend the muscovado sponge with caramel mousse and natural yoghurt, or the vanilla rice pudding with greengages and thyme ice-cream, which is unusual and exquisite.
With Shay at the helm, we’re certain Julie’s will be a hit with locals and party animals alike. We can’t remember the last time we wanted to order every dish on the menu. As his menu will change with the seasons, we’re already plotting a visit in the next few months to see which wintry ingredients will be given the Shay treatment. Julie’s celebrate its 50th birthday in November and there’s much to be proud of. We’re sure there’ll be one hell of a party.
135 Portland Road, Holland Park, W11 4LW
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