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Modern French Dining with Indian Spice:
I have to admit to a little trepidation when I checked out the menu for Bistro Vadouvan. I love classic French food but in the wrong hands, the idea of adding spice to a pâté de campagne or harissa to a bouillabaisse could be disastrous. But, I was reassured when I arrived to be greeted by none other than Uttam Tripathy, the owner of Potli, one of my favourite Indian restaurants.
He introduced his business partner and chef, Durga Misra, who has worked his way through a whole series of top hotels and restaurants including The Oberoi Rajvilas in India, working with Eric Chavot, a French chef with two Michelin stars to his name at the Capital Hotel and Brasserie Chavot and at La Petite Maison in London. That heritage of classic French and Indian cuisine is an excellent starting point for the food on the menu at Bistro Vadouvan.
The restaurant is on Putney Wharf and used to be a rather good Spanish restaurant called Alquimia. The interiors have been refurbished, banquettes with jewel coloured leather upholstery and contemporary lighting gives the place a fresh, modern feel. The open kitchen is still there, with Durga at the helm. And, there’s a small outdoor terrace with views over the river, together with a bar/kitchen table area where you can sit and enjoy some of the sharing snacks for a more relaxed feeling
We started with a bowl of light yet creamy goat’s curd labneh with pistachio and olive tapenade and homemade za’ater spice flatbread, while I enjoyed a cocktail. The flatbread was delicious and very moreish, if this place was on my doorstep I’d be popping in regularly for some of this and a glass of wine on the way home.
For Starters I chose the Prawn, crab and cucumber salad with yuzu, mint and orange dressing. It was a lovely, fresh mixture with big chunks of crab and a generous scattering of prawns.
My companion ordered the seabream ceviche with avocado and chilli. It’s described as a classic ceviche, with yuzu kosho and a hint of green chilli and was stunning. Delicate citrus notes with a real kick from this chilli that cut through after the first mouthful, this was a hit.
For my main, I chose the glazed salmon, carrot with harissa and dill yoghurt cooked in the clay oven barbeque (a tandoor). The Salmon is marinated in olive cardamom and paprika. Soft, beautifully spiced salmon in a piquant yoghurt sauce, I was more than happy with this dish which was bursting with flavour.
My companion picked the dish of the day, a lamb merguez stew. Again, no complaints, he really enjoyed the spicing – it looked like a hearty and yet refined dish, topped with a perfectly fried egg.
We did also indulge in a side order of homemade rosemary and garlic chips. Proper chips, these were deliciously crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle, with a lovely light salt, garlic and rosemary seasoning.
By this time we were too full for dessert, but in the interests of research decided to share a passionfruit cheesecake. Once again, a top quality dish that wouldn’t have been out of place in any Michelin star restaurant.
I left suitably impressed. It’s something of a shlep across town for me to get to Putney, but it was definitely worth the journey. The quality of the food here is superb – worthy of Chef Misra’s heritage in top restaurants in London and India. And, the innovation is genuine and effective. I didn’t expect to like spiced up French classic food, but I really did – and I’ll be returning whenever I have the opportunity to be that side of town.
30 Brewhouse Lane Putney Wharf, Putney, London SW15 2JX,