One of London’s original celebrity restaurants (Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, Kate Moss and Princess Diana) closed its doors for a six-month refurb in 2015 and finally opened them again at the end of 2019, just in time for its 50th anniversary.
Anyone old enough to remember what Julie’s used to look like may mourn the re-location of the atmospheric warren of places to eat to one dining room in the basement, though the good news is that the ground-floor bar remains one of the few grown-up places for a drink in Holland Park that isn’t a scuzzy pub.
Original owners Tim and Cathy Herring asked the original Julie, designer Julie Hodgess, to oversee the new look. Hodgess has retained a handful of the famous design details such as the gothic wood carvings and the scale model of the Albert Memorial, while the secretive, enclosed booths that line the wall recall the notorious table G1, the curtained-off space christened the G-spot for being the naughtiest place in Notting Hill.
Arguably the biggest change is on the food front, with new chef-patron Shay Cooper bringing some of the razzle-dazzle from his Michelin-starred gigs at The Bingham and The Goring to Julie’s semi-open kitchen.
We enjoyed everything we ate, but couldn’t help but feel that the likes of a muscovado sponge with caramel mousse adorned with a delicate pastry spiral, or a tiny portion of roast cod, felt too dressed up for what is at the end of the day a casual local – though there was no faulting the fish’s deliciousness, beautifully cooked to flaky fall-apartness and contrasted with slices of firm cuttlefish.
Kale risotto topped with white crab meat was greener than a juice from a Notting Hill wellness clinic; ox cheek with veal tongue and deep-fried smoked cauliflower delivered a different sort of well-being, the kind that can only be induced by rich ingredients. Best of all was buttermilk chicken, crisp fried and with a white miso emulsion for dipping.
Like its clientele, Julie’s hard-partying days may be in the past, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the loveliness of the setting in traffic-free Clarendon Cross, where an outside table will always be a star spot to reminisce about the good old days.