Does Julie's really have a draped-off dining area known affectionately as "the G-spot"? The warren of peekaboo alcoves and opulent Victoriana dining rooms at this cute 1969 throwback ooze sensuality and allegedly have witnessed all manner of naughtiness over the years. Royalty and rockers—from Mick Jagger to Lady Di—have all famously cavorted here (note: now it's their kids that turn up). Situated at quaint Clarenden Cross, off Holland Park Avenue, the food is fun in an unashamedly unreconstructed kinda-way. Poached lobster with Russian salad, swordfish carpaccio, pork and Calvados, quail with Swiss rösti potatoes and crab spaghetti are all popular faves, but overall its more about the vibe than the food.
Jul 26, 2009
We went yesterday to Julie's. I have to stress I went with a positive attitude, hoping to have a great dinner and be able to rate the venue very highly. I wish I hadn't. We were greeted by a wait girl, sitting in a booth at the entrance. I found very weird she would not escort us to the table. I found it a waste of staff to have someone just sitting down just checking reservations and doing nothing else. Not my problem anyways. We were directed
upstairs as requested in the reservation. The place was mostly empty. Now the issues started. One of the most unfriendly and arrogant managers, arguing the place was fully booked, just offered two seating options. Now, I don't give a damn if your place is fully booked (we found later that it was obviously not!), we arrived first, we should be offered the best table or at the very least let us choose the one we want. He was arrogant and impolite, which already put me off. I chose the table with the table cloth (this was another bizarre thing, to have some table with table clothes and others without - someone explain me the rationale of that.). The chairs, which seemed antique, were anyways extremely uncomfortable (could not sit back without stubbing some protruding edges in my spine). We requested to be seated on the "other" table (without table cloth). Eventually, it was not much better (also very uncomfortable) but at least we had more space. I went to the toilet to wash my hands as usual. Now, the cleaness and overall appearance of the loo is a sign to me of what the particular place is about. For such a big restaurant the toilets are ridiculously small and cramped, and although they were not dirty, they were very very tired and outdated. Not good. The food: On the table they had a small plate of olives, 4 slices of bread and a dish with olive oil and vinegar. First, I would assume that to be complementary (if I have not requested for it, I dont see why I should pay for it), plus I dont like the fact of putting those on the table before anybody sits down. Purely out of hygiene and service. Well, we later found out they charged 1.5 GBP per person for that. The funny thing is that no matter if the table was for 2, 4 or 6 there was the same amount of olives and bread, which I find it a robbery. This is what this place is about: your money, not their food (as you'll see right now) Starters: I ordered the "Brown butter and garlic potted shrimps", she had the "Smoked mackerel, halibut and salmon terrine with caper mayonnaise". Two of the worst starters I've ever had. Here's why. The shrimps plate was a dish with 5-6 slices of plain bread and a small bowl (5 cm across) filled with butter (which looked more like solidified duck fat -really!) in which you could find a few shrimps. Now, to call those shrimps is like to call an anchovies a blue whale. No kidding those are the cheapest crappies shrimps one can "buy". barely 0.5 cm in length chewy, etc, etc etc. It was sent back straight away. Btw, Julie's robs 10.50 GBP for that!!!!! Remember, 5-6 slices of brown bread and a tiny bowl with butter!!!! wtf! In replacement I asked for the gazpacho (the 2nd cheapest starter). Now, I am Spanish and I make my own gazpacho at home. But it doesn't matter. Even someone who would have never tasted tomatoes could tell that gazpacho was just a can of tomatoes, crushed. 6.50 GBP for canned tomatoes????!!! Patient reader, believe me those were just canned tomatoes. No olive oil, no peppers no nothing. Plain crashed canned tomatoes. Bad, bad. Her terrine of smoked fish was a tasteless slice of smoked fish pate served with the same 5-6 slices of brown bread. No capper mayonnaise (as advertised) was to be found on the plate either. Enough to start prosecution. The mains were better (it would have been difficult to get it worse anyways). I had the entrecote. It lacked flavour and the best part were the chips that came with it. Overall an ok dish, but when you factor the 25 GBP for that, you again feel the people at Julie's got the value for money equation completely wrong. She had the rack of lamb. 3 lamb chops, 2 bites per chop (50% was fat). Nice taste, but again, unimaginative and not good value for money. Anyways, the mains were passable when you put them in the perspective of the starters and the desserts. Desserts: Eaton mess for her, brownie for me. The Eaton mess I saw in "come dine with me" looked and probably was immensely better than the one we got at Julie's. It came in a small glass. Basically it was berry yogurt (Tesco brand grade) with a few berries. 8 GBP. My brownie, being aware that making a good brownie is not an easy task was no surprise: disappointing (taste, portion, presentation). It was dry, hard on the edges (could not cut it with my knife) and again, 8 GBP. Bad, bad, bad Julie's. Other stuff: we only got our bottle of wine after having finished our starter. The waiter insisted in refilling the glass even though being far from empty (he did the same thing with other tables). Service was overall neither friendly nor efficient. I refused to pay the service charge. Surprisingly the manager did not bother to come asking the reason. That proves my theory that he doesn't give a damn about his customers. Summary: VERY low food quality. Poor execution of dishes. VERY LOW value for money. No surprise when you consider an arrogant manager, who is closer to a pimp than a professional of the food industry, who does not deserve any of your hard earned pennies. This was no bad luck. Those were not small unfortunate details. There something or someone fundamentally wrong in Julie's. I will not come back, and I’d urge you to consider some other place.