Joe's 126 Draycott Avenue, London SW3

Can a new chef return a trendy venue from style empire Joseph to its hip best?

Fashion and food go together like, well, they don't actually go together all that much. If one likes fashion, one can't like food too much. It inhibits the ability to fit into the clothes, as we know all too well.

I bought my wedding outfit at Joseph, the achingly chic emporium started in 1972 by the inimitable Joseph Ettedgui. At the time a standard size 10, I had the embarrassment of asking whether they had the trousers of the white trouser-suit I wanted in Large.

The Joseph empire by then had introduced a very chic restaurant called Joe's, which was probably a pioneer of the ladies-who-lunch scene; it sat between branches of Joseph in the newly coined "Brompton Cross". I remember it was very much a "glass of house white and salad" stop-off for we Elle girls and when I moved out of glossy magazines and, coincidentally out of a size 10, I stopped going to South Ken and to Joe's.

I hadn't thought about it in years until recently, when I started hearing good things about newly installed chef Maria Elia. Particularly the praise for her strawberry risotto, which piqued my interest because it sounded like food as fashion, not flavour.

Putting my preconceptions aside, I went along with Mr M and my sister Claire, who's always game for a food adventure. The room is full of sleek, slim, well-groomed South Kensington residents – people for whom eating out is no more remarkable than brushing teeth.

The room is equally sleek and cleverly divided by open-sided display shelves, so when the restaurant isn't full, it doesn't look cavernous. Elia, the executive chef, is Anglo-Greek and already has a profile thanks to regular appearances on the foodie programmes which now proliferate on TV. She has also done the obligatory season at El Bulli, and the "trendy gallery" stint with both Delfina and the Whitechapel Gallery restaurants.

Apart from that strawberry risotto, there are other flashes of intrigue on the menu, such as textures of peas and Cornish mackerel two ways. There are also several protein-high dishes, such as haddock carpaccio and char-grilled rib eye for Dukan disciples.

Over a few glasses of decent Malbec, we debate who's going to eat the risotto. Since none of us can commit, we ask for a starter-ish size that all three of us can sample. I fear it may have blown my cover, but I can't bear being the dismal one with a plateful of stodge I can't eat (after a very unhappy experience with a champagne risotto at 5 Pollen Street a few months ago).

We needn't have worried – of course. With Elia's deft touch the dish is both rich and light, radicchio lending a depth of flavour that gives the berries something to shine against. And despite me balking at the idea of cheese, somehow it works.

After that, my main course, spiced slow-braised lamb with rainbow chard and chickpeas, is a disappointment (too pappy a texture and unappealing in a barrel formation), but I get a few forkfuls of Mr M's pea ensemble. Without wishing to get all sexist on you, this really is one for the ladies. Apparently Elia uses mind-mapping to dream up her conceptual dishes – seemingly, this is what a woman who wants tasty food but not to feel all "snake that's swallowed a goat" is after.

Peas come in soup, fritter, jelly, puréed and in a light pasta formation. There are no bum notes – surprising for one simple component. I love it and look forward to eating other "textures of..." dishes that she promises over the seasons.

Claire's thrilled with monkfish, cauliflower, pistachio, mint and preserved lemon cous cous, declaring it one of the finest balances of flavours and textures she's eaten in years.

A fantabulous cherry variety pack of clafoutis, cherry and chocolate rice pudding and cherry ice-cream (an absolute steal at £3.50) is pretty and toothsome and just right for sharing.

Joe's deserves to be for ladies who breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is delicious, pretty to look at and satisfying without heft. But don't think it's just for them: the father of two fashionable waifs at the next table looked thoroughly happy with his steak, chips and ice-cream.

Ettedgui died last year, but his fashion label continues to turn out super-stylish clothes. I think he would have fully appreciated the stylishness of the dishes at his namesake restaurant, too. 1

7/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Joe's 126 Draycott Avenue, London SW3, tel: 020 7225 2217 Open 9am-11pm, Tues-Sat; 9am-6pm, Sun-Mon. About £120 for three, including wine

Dine in style

Second Floor Restaurant, Harvey Nichols

21 Cathedral Street, Manchester, tel: 0161 828 8898

Still one of the best daytime dining experiences in the city centre, this buzzing department-store dining-room offers great views, excellent food and good value



Bibendum Oyster Bar

81 Fulham Road, London SW3, tel: 020 7581 5817

Lovely fruits-de-mer in Art Deco surroundings are the makings of a treat at this fixture in the chi-chi Brompton Cross area



202, Nicole Farhi

202 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7727 2722

The food plays a support role at this hip (and pricey) brunch/lunch spot integrated into a fashion store.

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2011' www.hardens.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little