Monday, 13 June 2011

Homing in on Café Culture


Baity Kitchen's Thanassis Stefanidis with Joudie Kalla Anagnou and friend

When I heard another café was opening in Walton Street my initial thought was “Do we really need another place for the ladies who lunch?” here in Knightsbridge. I’ve long been of the belief that what we really are missing is a good Chinese restaurant and useful shops like ironmongers and greengrocers. I’d even quite like to see a Poundland open opposite Harrods. Who doesn’t like a bargain?

Joudie Kalla Anagnou’s recently opened venture, however, challenged my perception of the Chelsea tractor driving lady’s favourite lunching dens.

Unlike the other cafés to have opened in Walton Street and Beauchamp Place in recent years, the Baity Kitchen offers fresh, wholesome food at a reasonable price. This is café food that is cooked on the premises. The menu changes daily but the quality is consistently excellent.

Inspired by her Middle Eastern origins, Joudie has created a casual eatery where family recipes are given a modern twist.

 Joudie Kalla Anagnou

Talented Joudie has an impressive pedigree in catering having worked for Gordon Ramsay and at Daphne’s and Papillon. As well as being a truly hands-on co-owner at Baity Kitchen, she somehow also finds the time to run a catering operation, teaches cooking classes for children and writes the blog http://www.moodfoodblog.com

My favourite here has to be the penne arrabbiata. It is simply the best I’ve had in London and believe me, I’ve tried many. Though Joudie continually suggests other options to me, I’d recommend this dish to anyone. With pastas, rice dishes, salad, fish and meat, there is plenty of choice be you in search of something light or something substantial. Expect lots of olives, oregano, cumin, tahini and aubergines – perfect for a fine summer’s day.

Another reason the Baity Kitchen wins my custom over other café premises in the area is that it serves wine – and good wine at that. Drink may be a recurring theme in my writings but I’m very happy to admit that I like a chilled glass of wine with a meal. The house rosé is especially worth trying. For those on the wagon, though, there is also a wide range of teas, coffees and soft drinks.

The décor is basic yet welcoming. Concrete floors give the premises a somewhat urban feel but with patio doors open onto a charming garden brimming with greenery the style is balanced. Zinc topped tables, including a large communal one, with aquamarine chairs complete the look.

 The Baity Kitchen Garden

Another attraction is that Joudie is a fantastic host. When the Baity Kitchen first opened they did not yet have an ice machine and so when I dined there with an American friend who always likes ice with her wine, I was somewhat dreading a “situation.” Most restaurateurs sadly would simply have shrugged their shoulders and said “sorry, can’t help.” Joudie didn’t. She dashed across the road to a friendly neighbouring bar. Hey presto, ice was served. An ice machine in situ thankfully now saves Joudie those trips.

“Baity” means “my home” in Arabic and it’s this kind of touch that really makes the Baity Kitchen a home from home for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Baity Kitchen, 172 Walton Street, London, SW3 2JL. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7584 6866. Website: http://www.baitykitchen.com

Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 9pm. Sunday: 9am to 8pm.

Follow Baity Kitchen on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/baitykitchen

11 comments:

Claire Burns said...

A perfect lunch spot (even if you, like many, make fun of my Chelsea tractor driving skills). The Greek salad at Baity Kitchen is glorious.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the Arrabbiata. It is wonderful and the portion is a good size too.

Joudie's Mood Food said...

What a lovely post Matthew. Thank you for all your support. Glad to have you there with all your friends.

Joudie's Mood Food said...

What a lovely post Matthew. So glad to have your support and that of your friends. Glad you enjoy it so much.

Anonymous said...

Great review Matthew! The way this is written sounds like you have some serious chef friends. Avidly read your reviews.

Thank you from,
DinnerOnDaHouse

Glenmore said...

Usually I enjoy your perceptive scribblings Matthews. They often amuse me :-) But, in your review of the commendable BAITY KITCHEN you appear to make what I consider to be an unjustified - and rather chippy - implied attack on the only other cafe to have opened in our ‘hood in recent years: JAKS. Which does indeed offer fresh, wholesome food at a reasonable price, cooked on the premises. And they do serve wine. They are both excellent places sharing many customers who drift back and forth from one to the other. Both welcome additions to Walton Street. (I know that the likes of Prince Harry; Ambramovich, Stelios, Liz Hurley, Orlando Bloom, Frank Lampard and Jemima Khan might be considered Riff-raff by you ;-) But they do exhibit good table manners when in JAKS!) I agree with you about the need for a good Chinese (or even Indian?) restaurant. Keep your snout in the trough, old bean. I look forward to your future ramblings. BTW Have you tried CASSIS in the Brompton Road, yet?

Matthew Steeples said...

Glenmore: Not attacking Jaks though it isn't a place I choose to visit myself.

There are so many cafes now in Beauchamp Place and frankly they are appalling. The one I visited last Wednesday took 35 minutes to deliver a toasted sandwich to my table and they charged £4.50 for the privilege.

As for the "riff-raff", it ain't a phrase I use myself. A certain former restaurateur who had certainly had more than one since the sun had passed the yardarm favours this term. I definitely would not use this phrase to describe Prince Harry, Roman Ambramovich, Stelios, Liz Hurley, Orlando Bloom, Frank Lampard or Jemima Khan or in fact anyone.

Regarding Chinese and Indian restaurants, it is about time someone filled both gaps.

Casis - Went there once with Hannah Montana and neither of us loved it that much. Haven't been back. Maybe it is worth a revisit especially as I hear they now have a happy hour between 3pm and 7pm.

Anonymous said...

Most restaurants in SW1-3 are not worth reviewing. There seems to be no end to bad service and menus that would make you break threw your chair by just reading them. I am convinced people will eat any old slop shoved in front of them. Where have all the foodies gone?? South I think. Places like Jaks is a classic reminder of why we should stay home and cook for or selves! DinnerOnDaHouse

Anonymous said...

Baity Kitchen could you please use fresh Oregano on the Greek salad. DODH

Alex Jackson said...

Great food served by a great lady. Joudie is very welcoming. She deserves huge success.

Joudie's Mood Food said...

Anonymous, even in Greece they use the dried oregano, but have taken your point and noted it. Once im done with the dried stuff will try it out.

Thanks Alex for your comment. Its very much appreciated.