Jan is a restaurant in Battersea inspired by the cuisine of the Caspian region.
Jan plays with Middle Eastern flavours that are familiar to us restaurant-goers, but then uses them in unexpected, original ways to create a more novel – Caspian – menu. With smokey perfumes billowing over from the kitchen in the back, you can’t help but get excited for this journey.
Forget the Northcote Road you knew a decade ago. Easily accessible via Clapham Junction station, it’s gotten a facelift. The neighbourhood seems to get trendier each year, boasting a new array of quality, original eateries. It’s not surprising that a spot like Jan found itself a home on the quickly evolving main street.
It’s no secret that London loves international food. The Caspian region gets plenty of play in our fair city – and no wonder, as it encompasses a wide range of culinary influences, from Turkish and Egyptian to Arabic and Iranian. As a result, the menu is familiar enough to be approachable, but foreign enough to be enticing.
Freshly baked, topped or not, their flat breads are a must. And their take on baba ganoush is light and tasty. We refrained from trying all of their small plates to save room for the mains.
Cauliflower proves it can hold its own; dip your pinky into the tahini-miso sauce and it may overwhelm you. Sea bream exceeds 1001 expectations. (You may need to ask for more harissa – to bathe in, obvs – but make sure you specify it’s THAT one you want. All harissa was not created equal). It was, hands down, our dish of the night.
Jan is filled with rich, sweet fumes that waft over from from the hickory smoker. The char on the harissa-marinated steak contrasts with the rare, melt-in-your-mouth core. And yes, you will still need room for dessert.
The harissa ice cream will send your tastebuds into overdrive, which only made us crave the other desserts – sadly unavailable that night – 100 times more. Wines are fairly priced by the glass or bottle, and an interesting range, at that. Cocktails – for the sweet tooth – are a fun mix of Caspian flavours and familiar tipples.
Our host and restaurant manager were excellent and the staff was most welcoming. All were happy to offer advice on how best to approach the menu. Their professional mixologists were able to guide us attentively through the wine and cocktail list.
Style & Décor
The front room has a kind of French-brasserie-meets-Moroccan-bazaar charm. There are mirrored ceilings, and solemn portraits adorn the walls. The music leaves a little to be desired in the early evening, but as you while away the hours, jazz is the perfect accompaniment to a nightcap.
It’s cosy, narrow, low-ceilinged (watch your head in the loo), and filled with aromas to transport you to another time and place. There is a hint of opulence around the edges that recalls the era from which Jan is inspired. You could very easily forget you were in South West London.
By the end of the meal, you’re full up on flavour but not bogged down by the weight of the food you just consumed. Jan exudes just enough decadence for a meal here to be an occasion. Still, it maintains a comfortable, convivial atmosphere, with its open kitchen, wooden sharing table, and brasserie-like chairs in the front room. To top it off, it’s a good value for money.
Jan is suitable for date night, a light working lunch, or a long weekend brunch. The flavours are exciting and the menu original enough that, were it not on the other side of town, we’d quite happily be regulars.
Get There: 78 Northcote Road, London SW11 6QL
Contact: 0207 525 9446
Opening Hours: Tuesday 5-11pm, Wednesday – Saturday 12-11pm, Sunday 12-5pm
Words by Chloë Stewart