Moroccan Joseph Ettedgui (1936 – 2010) founded the Joseph fashion label in 1974. He, along with his contemporaries Mary Quant, Terence Conran and Norman Foster were pioneers of their time. He is credited with revolutionising knitwear and his knack for retailing resulted in the business being sold to a Japanese clothing company for £140 million in 2005. Always complete with his cigarillo and Gatsby-esque glasses, I remember him as a local character.
The Joseph brand was not just about clothing. Ettedgui was also the first to merge a restaurant and a shop when he opened cafes in Draycott Avenue, Sloane Street and Westbourne Grove. One, Joe’s, has recently been given a makeover following the arrival of new executive chef Maria Elia.
Elia, like Ettedgui himself, has an impressive CV. Having gained experience in Spain at the renowned El Bulli and Arzak restaurants and as a chef on a private yacht, she held the role of head chef at London’s Delfina for ten years before gaining two AA rosettes and a Michelin recommendation when she opened the Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room.
Aside from cooking, this dynamo finds time to write for BBC Good Food, Olive and Sainsbury’s magazines and is a regular guest on Good Food Live, Daily Cooks, Perfect and Market Kitchen. Her first book, The Modern Vegetarian, was published in 2009 and a second, Create with Flavour, is due in September 2011.
The redecoration of Joe’s has brought with it comfortable, red leather chairs, wooden flooring and an oak shelved wall of wine. Iconic imagery fills the walls, a number by photographer to the stars John Stoddart. The overall result is simple yet stylish.
The reasonably priced menu features several classics such as chargrilled rib-eye steak and fish and chips, but Elia accompanies these with several unusual twists including strawberry and radicchio risotto and a starter of carrots, red lentils and herbs with tahini yoghurt. My choice of quail with broad beans, salt cod brandade and a quail scotch egg to start and a main of pork belly, ham hock, cockles and spring greens was especially excellent.
Grace Coddington, Vogue US's creative director, in an obituary of Ettedgui in The Guardian, remembers buying her Azzedine Alaïa dresses at the Brompton Cross Joseph store in between meeting friends for coffee and lunch at Joe’s. "It was my Saturday hangout. I loved it."
Elia’s recent makeover of Joe’s décor and menu is, to my mind, a much deserved success. Fashionistas and foodies will rightly continue to flock to this stylish restaurant.
Joe’s, 126 Draycott Avenue, London, SW3 3AH. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7225 2217. Website: http://www.joseph.co.uk/joes-cafe/locations