Juniper Tree in Belsize Park serves guilt free fare from fine organic kitchen
- Credit: Archant
BRIDGET GALTON samples the tempting seasonal British menu at a Belsize Park restaurant where animal welfare and great flavours are top priorities.
The organic food movement has ebbed and flowed over the years with chefs latterly pushing back on expensive produce in favour of sourcing and flavour.
But you can’t deny that organic farming and animal welfare go hand in hand, and one Belsize Park restaurateur has put his money behind his principles to open a neighbourhood restaurant serving organic British fare.
Alexander Technique practitioner Andy Kent was sampling his own goods the night we dropped into the Juniper Tree on Belsize Lane.
With its natural oak floor and exposed brickwork the cosy restaurant has just relaunched under head chef Dave Rann, who has worked under Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsay. Kent aims to bring simple, seasonal British cooking to his own neighbourhood, using the best organic ingredients.
“For us organic starts and finishes with the quality of the ingredients,” he says. “Organic farmers avoid shortcuts like pesticides, non-organic fertilizers and antibiotics. They also comply with very high standards of animal welfare. With all that extra care and attention, is it any surprise they produce the best ingredients?”
We started, aptly, with a Juniper Tree cocktail, a refreshing concoction of Juniper Green organic gin with elderberry and pomegranate which prepped us nicely for starters which were flavourful fine dining with a satisfyingly healthy edge.
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My seasonal asparagus with poached egg and herb emulsion was a perfect light spring dish, while my friend happily devoured her Brixham crab with avocado puree blood orange and beetroot.
The meat is sourced from Wales’ Rhug estate which combines both traceability and high ethical standards and my friend’s 35 day-aged ribeye with rosti, and peppercorn sauce was correctly cooked medium rare with a gamey edge from weeks of hanging and a good depth and heat to the sauce. While I was longing to order the organic roast chicken with celeriac and thyme, I er chickened out and plumped for the more cheffy seabass with confit fennel and sauce vierge. The well cooked fish was a great match for the aniseedy fennel, though the sauce needed a lighter citrus touch to balance the oil in an otherwise lovely plate. I forced my pal to try dessert and a thick crème brulee nearly sunk her beneath the table, while I couldn’t quite put down all of my rich chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream.
Rann has drawn up a really tempting seasonal menu here that on our visit also included juniper cured salmon and whole plaice with a beurre noisette. He’s also serving Sunday roasts, afternoon teas and sharing bowls available until 7pm with the likes of confit chicken and roast rump of lamb. With a good selection of organic cocktails, wine and beers it’s a great addition to \NW3’s restaurant scene, a place to eat well with a clear conscience.
Juniper Tree open Tuesday to Sunday 12 to 10pm at 72 Belsize Lane, email@example.com / 020 3019 7303