Holland Park, London

For we Brits, 1969 was an auspicious year. It saw us welcoming the launch of the Ford Capri, cheering over the maiden flight of British-French Concorde, and waving off the Queen Elizabeth II on her maiden voyage. Queen Elizabeth herself, meanwhile, was busy opening the new London Underground Victoria line and, a little further west, in a leafy corner of Holland Park, Julie’s restaurant flung open its doors for the first time, its owners, Cathy and Tim Herring, having no idea then that they’d still be here 50 years later, celebrating a new look. The made-over Julie’s, under its distinctive tan awning, will still be recognisable to old friends. The original designer, Julie Hodges, has incorporated existing objets d’art into the warm, relaxed space: there is the same scale-model Albert Memorial that Kate Bush might have gazed at when she popped in after a Van Morrison gig. There are the same stained-glass windows that Princess Diana might have admired over a cocktail. These features have been artfully combined with new aspects, including bright kilims from Pakistan to adorn the banquettes.

The menu, however, has seen a more radical transformation, thanks to chef Shay Cooper. Gone are the burgers and fries of the early days and, in their place, a moveable feast of modern British cuisine. On our visit, a starter of buttermilk fried quail represents a very grown-up take on chicken nuggets, and comes with a tangy white miso emulsion for dipping, while a charred kale risotto with Dorset crab and horseradish butter wouldn’t seem out of place in a certain Port Isaac mainstay.

The mains are equally accomplished. Ricotta dumplings come paired with slivers of pumpkin, collard greens and a chanterelle and sunflower seed pesto – a rich, earthy delight. The salt marsh lamb, which comes with pressed cabbage, garlic potatoes, crisp lamb breast and preserved lemon, is the stuff of British-winter dreams. Standout dessert is a fig leaf panna cotta: refreshing, light and topped with an Earl Grey doughnut.

Kate Moss, another Julie’s fan, might be too busy to linger over the salted caramel petits fours, as we do, but that’s part of the restaurant’s joy. This is a place that has retained a loyal following both for its food and its joie de vivre. We raise a glass (of excellent chianti) to Julie’s at 50. She’s looking good on it.

Words by Julie Alpine

020 7229 8331, juliesrestaurant.com

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