Bistro Vadouvan claims to be the only one of its kind in London. Blending the unmistakably classic cuisine of the French with the subtle spice of the Middle East and Asia, they may just be right.
Of all the places to open such a unique eatery, they’ve gone with Putney Wharf. Whilst it may sound best suited tucked away in the depths of Kensington or contrastingly standing proud on a side street in the centre of the city, Putney Wharf may actually be the right choice. The Wharf offers a terribly underrated view of the Thames and it’s a commercial enough area to guarantee that they’ll pull in a few punters.
The restaurant itself is clean and neat. It’s not too showy and there’s no pretentious aura as you may expect. The atmosphere is lifted greatly by the warmth of the waiting team, who are keen to offer their attentive services and pleasant chat. The owners, college friends Durga Misra and Uttam Tripathy, have already showcased their culinary expertise through popular Indian-inspired restaurant Potli based in Hammersmith. Having made their award-winning mark on London’s restaurant scene, it seems unlikely that an evening at the Bistro Vadouvan is to be anything other than excellent.
The cocktails are first to arrive. Gorgeously executed with strict attention to detail abundantly clear, our first course, if you will, sets the scene for an evening of refinement. Eager for a thrill, we opt for the Mango & Chilli Martini special and the Pomme Fizz.
The former accentuates the overall Oriental flair of the menu whilst the latter provides a refreshingly zesty buzz – we’d gladly have both several times over.
Food-wise, we opt for a starting Pate de campagne epices and Seabream Ceviche, Red Onion & Celery. The pate scores points for its proper meaty texture, avoiding the common problem of being a jellified mess reminiscent of Whiskers cat food. The delightful addition of smoked paprika is welcome, amping the dish up to its full potential through a newfound fiery flavour.
Similarly, the seabream ceviche impresses. If you’re a fan of sushi, this is certainly the starting option for you. The Asian inspiration creeps in once again here, with the accompanying dressing providing an inexplicable tang and highlighting the pure sense of adventure that runs throughout the Bistro Vadouvan menu.
It’s a case of so far so great. The main event, Duck Leg “Pot au feu “, Asiatique and Poached Brill & Prawn Ravioli arrive as expected, presented beautifully. The duck leg holds the classic recipe for success with an enticingly crispy skin and tender meat that delicately falls off the bone, yet the real highlight comes in the form of the hoisin-flavoured jus generously blanketing the dish.
The ravioli is a winner for its hearty helping of giant, juicy prawns, although it was a little too similar in flavour to the seabream ceviche starter. That is, of course, not a bad thing, however if you’re searching for a little diversity in your courses, we’d suggest enjoying one or the other. A side order of chips arrive and venture remarkably beyond our expectations. They’re evidently handmade, cooked to perfection and offer that oh-so-fluffy inside that makes them the ever-favourite potato option. To put it simply: these are some bloody good chips.
Bistro Vadouvan squander their chance of being a straight 10 out of 10 eatery with their not-quite-sufficient portion sizes. It’s only to be expected in such an environment where the fine dining initiative means quality precedes quantity, yet when the food is this good, it’s obvious that we’d want to wolf as much down as possible.
Rounding up a fabulous evening, we make our dessert selections: A Floating Island and Luxurious Chocolate and Bitter Orange. Though a little dubious at first, the Floating Island (essentially a soft meringue in crème anglaise, for the uncultivated among us) proves to be a hit.
The latter, which is personally recommended by our knowledgeable waitress, holds a satisfying ‘crunch’ at its bottom, partnered with a deliciously creamy, soft chocolate top. Once again, we’d happily enjoy both for a second or third time.
It’s not only the pure culinary genius of Michelin-trained chef Durga Misra that shines through vividly at Bistro Vadouvan. His expertise in creating mouthwatering dishes, married with the sublime service, enviable location and other half of the dream team Uttam Tripathy, creates a fierce new arrival in the borough of Wandsworth. The focus on finite details, even down to the questionably fancy cutlery, pays off excruciatingly – once you’ve been, you’ll be making reservations for a return, and the price tag allows it.
The contemporary Bistro Vadouvan showcases how the intertwining of two very different cuisines can create serious culinary magic, and how, in this case, French and spice creates everything nice.
Book yourself a table here.