Our resident foodie Damian Cotton has visited France maybe 100 times on culinary expeditions. What better person then to find out how TW’s very own French bistro Chez JJ compares to the ‘real thing’.
…in Tunbridge Wells, there is Chez JJ. It looks the part – small and cosy with gingham tablecloths and Marcel Pagnol film posters on the wall and a little mezzanine for diners a deux or a whispered business meeting. It has bustle and charm and chunks of baguette with the right kind of butter, Lescure from the Charentes. There is a wine list for quotidian drinking and some very special wines indeed listed on blackboards which are, somewhat whimsically, priced in Euros. Pity they aren’t still in Francs – we could afford them a little more easily. Still, it probably won’t be long before we can again.
Staples of bistro cuisine are well represented – the harengs au pommes tiede (marinated herring fillets with a warm potato salad) are very good, entirely traditional and my usual favourite, followed by steak frites – rare bavette which has some chew but a lot of flavour. My lunches here are pretty much the only time I would order such a thing other than at a specialist steak place like Gaucho or Hawksmoor. Steak is too personal a preference to allow a kitchen to spoil it although at Chez JJ I have considerable confidence in the meat cookery…
See pages 114 & 115 of the December issue of SO Tunbridge Wells for the full review.
SOTW December Issue