Tucked away in Putney’s Riverside Wharf you’ll find Bistro Vadouvan, an unassuming independent restaurant, owned and run by two friends. Durga Misra, chef patron and co-founder, Uttam Tripathy both grew up on the East Coast of India in Odisha where the only respected career routes were to join the army or, to become a doctor.
Years later in 2016, after moving away from these prerequisites and having grafted in London restaurants for 10 years, the duo were presented with the opportunity to open a fine-dining neighbourhood restaurant and, this month, we’re giving you the chance to experience the bistros combination of classic French techniques mixed with Middle Eastern and Asian flavours. Enter by liking and sharing our recent Restaurant of the Month post and make sure you’re following @BistroVadouvan and @Belazu_co on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to win £150 for lunch or dinner for two people.
Durga had dreamed of becoming an engineer and following in his father’s footsteps however, after several failed attempts to join the army he realised that it was the discipline and structure that he was attracted to and luckily he found this as he began working in kitchens. Durga trained as a chef at a hospitality school in Chennai and was hooked by the militant processes and, the fact he got to wear a uniform!
For the next 10 years, Durga spent time cooking in Michelin-standard kitchens and the majority of this time learning the science and precision behind French cuisine from Chef Eric Chavot at Capital Hotel and Brasserie Chavot. This phase helped to embed the foundations of his knowledge, Durga added: “once you understand the matrix behind French cooking, you’re able to apply this to any dish. It gives you the formula to be able to experiment and build layers of flavour on top”.
“once you understand the matrix behind French cooking, you’re able to apply this to any dish. It gives you the formula to be able to experiment and build layers of flavour on top”.
Vadouvan translates to a French spice mix derived from the traditional Indian masala and Durga’s initial plan of opening a food truck, transpired into this French Indian Bistro (Vadouvan) which he and Uttam opened in May 2017. With a baseline investment and a brave heart, they took over the site of what had been a Spanish Tapas restaurant. The pair stripped the kitchen and cleaned the place for 20 days, scrubbing day and night, before they even thought about the interior design which they proceeded to master along the way (even designing their own cutlery) with no external input.
The small team of 12 front and back of house are the most driven and passionate group of hard working people you’ll come across, Durga explained that with a small team it’s important that you appeal to chef’s hearts not just their minds. They need to be there and willing to learn without needing this to be drilled into them at any stage. The kitchen is an open plan space with a BBQ tandoor oven which is Durga’s favourite toy and part of the process behind his barbequed seabream dish on the menu at the moment although he wouldn’t call it his best dish on the a la carte – he said “this would be like choosing between your children”.
The care and attention taken to create the marriage between French and Indian cuisine is no accident, Durga is a master when it comes to understanding and articulating the layers of flavour using his French foundation and Indian heritage to create a seasonal and ever changing menu to keep him, his team and even his regular local customers on their toes. Sandwiched between Carluccio’s and the popular Young’s Pub, The Boathouse, Bistro Vadouvan is most definitely worth stepping out of your comfort zone to experience the perfect balance of east and west.
The small team of 12 front and back of house are the most driven and passionate group of hard working people you’ll come across, Durga explained that with a small team it’s important that you appeal to chef’s hearts not just their minds.
Tahini is a favourite product of Durga in the Bistro Vadouvan kitchen.