City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Chez Jules (Hanover Street)


Average Rating:
3
Restaurant profile
Edinburgh Area: 
New Town, Edinburgh
Serving times: 
Sun-Wed: 12:00-22:00, Thu-Sat: 12:00-24:00
Telephone: 
(0131) 226 6992
Restaurant Established: 
09

Authentic French bistro food from the renowned Pierre Levicky in the New Town.


The Reviews

3

Menu Du Jour at Chez Jules first branch

Reviewed by Euan Andrews

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 6:22pm

Our visit to Chez Jules does not get off to the greatest of starts. As M and I usher ourselves inside, retreating from a cold flint-skied December day, it becomes clear there is some confusion over our lunch booking.

“Andrews”, we repeat, only to be offered a reservation for some folk under the name of Anderson.

“Meh”, seems to be the waiting staff’s attitude, “you may as well take that”.

And so we are guided into the large empty dining room and promptly deposited at a tiny corner table next to an open cleaning closet. Not, as I say, the greatest of starts.

Happily, the situation swiftly improves. A plate of bread with green salad, cured meats and olives is quickly set down before us while we peruse the menu du jour.

Chez Jules serves up a three course French bistro lunch at not far more than a tenner with the available choice changing on a monthly basis and, this being December, there is a slight hint of Christmas on offer. The room itself is spacious but cluttered, almost seeking to invoke the genuine ramshackle appeal of an everyday French eatery.

Cheesy Eiffel Tower posters adorn the walls while Edith Piaf wails mournfully from the stereo. Wine is served in the kind of chunky tumblers once given away free at petrol stations.

Following our unfortunate opening, our Spanish waitress is pleasantly informal, occasionally brusque, while detailing wine and food choices available.

To start, M has that old staple of French onion soup which comes served with large gruyere crouton. It’s a serviceable and warming pot for a cold day, if a little lacking in depth and richness.

My “casserolette” of snails with garlic cream comes with a rather fusty tasting vol-au-vent, evoking memories of 1970s’ tea times, but the snails are well cooked and not the rubber pellets they can so easily become.

By now Chez Jules has filled up somewhat, with office workers and passing trade bringing a bit of life to the place, providing instant atmosphere and ambient buzz. Round about now, M declares herself a bit tired of hearing Edith Piaf and requests a change of record. By the look of indignant horror on the waitress’s face, this is not a standard customer enquiry. The music is, however, stopped and quickly replaced. With another Edith Piaf CD.

The main courses are where Chez Jules shines today. Feeling uncommonly seasonal, I try the turkey escalope with sage and onion stuffing. I’m not sure what there is French about traditional sage and onion, but the perfectly cooked escalope is luscious without any of the dryness associated with this increasingly unwelcome meat.

M’s coq au vin with mushrooms and bacon is also a little triumph in perfectly cooked poultry, the flesh almost melting off the bone. However, highlight of the whole meal comes with our accompanying gratin dauphinois. Golden crusted creamy potatoes never tasted so good and would have made a fine main course in themselves with just a side salad accompanying.

Dessert is a bit of an oddity. All that is available on the menu du jour is a traditionally seasonal Buche de Noel. It’s a bit like eating a large starchy lump of confectionary and is, on the whole, not entirely pleasant.

So Chez Jules comes up trumps on some aspects while failing to tick boxes on others. It may not make a “destination restaurant”, but it isn’t attempting to do so. This is, on the whole, unpretentious Gallic fare for friends and family to enjoy as well as each others company in tatty bistro surroundings with occasionally rude service, making for a pleasantly authentic experience.