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Eat My Words: We review Jules bar and bistro in Birchington, Thanet

Given its village status, Birchington is rather spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink outlets.

Yet, given it is a mere five-minute drive down the road from Margate, it has seen little of the ‘London influence’ trickle down to its main thoroughfare.

Jules opened in March on Birchington's main high street (Station Road to the locals)
Jules opened in March on Birchington's main high street (Station Road to the locals)

There are traditional boozers, a (very nice) micropub and a sprinkling of classic cafes.

But there’s a new(ish) kid in town and word has got around it could be a contender for being the best of the bunch.

Billing itself as a bar and bistro, Jules opened in March midway down Station Road. It offered free prosecco on its first day and the crowds were, literally, spilling into the street. Clearly the good folk of Birchington enjoy a gratis glass of bubbly.

So, six months later, on a warm and sunny September afternoon we stepped foot inside to see whether, when hard cash is being exchanged, it lives up to its promise.

And promise it most certainly has. From the street the interior looks fantastic. There are deep leather chairs in the window – ideal for people-watching – bare wooden floors and wooden tables. The seating offers space for anything from six people to a more manageable two. There’s plenty of plants too which add a serene touch.

The splashes of green really enhance the vibe of Jules in Birchington
The splashes of green really enhance the vibe of Jules in Birchington

Lurking at the far end is an inviting bar, lit nicely and with foliage draped around it, a specials board propped up alongside it and a range of pastries and cakes on display.

Some fancy Dan lighting sets the whole place off nicely. It is simultaneously welcoming and, dare I say it for Birchington, rather romantic (a mood I have no intention of indulging in as I am joined across the table by my strapping 6ft son).

Its modern decor is chic and, yes, rather Margate-esque. Which, for the record, is a good thing.

Well designed, spotlessly clean - Jules in Birchington's Station Road
Well designed, spotlessly clean - Jules in Birchington's Station Road

The menu is tight and clearly considered. Vegans, vegetarians and good old-fashioned meat chompers will find options to please here.

We’re greeted by a friendly staff member, handed menus – one offers (what I assume is) an all-day breakfast, the other its brunch offering – and told to order at the bar when we’re ready.

On Saturday evenings it does tapas, while Sundays has an enticing-sounding roast menu too.

I opt for the FLT in a panini. Yes, it’s the vegan option of the classic BLT, and offers smokey facon (fake bacon for those wondering), baby spinach, beef tomatoes with a homemade black garlic mayo and homemade salsa. It’s £8.

Be fair, that looks good doesn't it?
Be fair, that looks good doesn't it?

My dining partner opts for one of the specials – the soy and chilli calamari for £9.

All sounds very nice. But sounding nice is often a very different sensation to the actual reality. We shall see.

Now, here are – spoiler alert – my only two gripes. Firstly, we ordered a couple of highly non-adventurous Diet Cokes. They are served, out of the can, at our table. The price of those two cans? £5. Silly money – or am I just getting old? Either way, I’m just thinking ‘profit margins’ while I drink mine.

Then we sit chatting while a couple of takeaway coffees are made for other customers. And we wait.

Almost exactly 20 minutes since the order was taken, the food arrives. I’m going to say that’s about five to 10 minutes too long for what is effectively a light bite. It’s a minor gripe though, as the surroundings are splendid.

My son's only complaint? He wished there were more
My son's only complaint? He wished there were more

It also suggests everything has been hand-prepared as fresh – and as we arrived just before lunchtime, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

I certainly forgive them when I see what arrives. These dishes look sensational – beautifully presented and providing a delicious waft of aroma.

The panini is delicious. I must admit I’m a bit of a fan of facon – it’s ruddy close to emulating the real thing and no little piggy gets hurt. What’s not to like? It is all beautifully seasoned with both the salsa and mayo offering some delightful zings and – let’s call them zangs – to the meal. In short, what we have here is a very tasty, decent-sized lunch.

The generous lumps of calamari – clearly freshly fried in a light batter – even delight my guest who spends his time making noises of appreciation. You can’t ask for more than that. Especially from him.

There are far worse places to spend a lunchtime
There are far worse places to spend a lunchtime

By the time we’ve finished the meal we’re both more than happy. The lightness of touch in the food means you skip out feeling your appetite has been sated while simultaneously not feeling like you need to go and sleep it off.

Well done Jules – this was something of a triumph and Birchington should be very proud of you.

Scores (out of five):

Food: Two excellent dishes – perfect light lunches – beautifully presented and with a genuine depth of taste which we weren’t expecting *****

Drink: After waiting a few months, this place now has a licence for booze. But, sadly, the days of having a few jars before heading back to bang out a few articles have long since gone. So we played safe with Cokes – but the range is there if you want it ***

Decor: It’s safe to say there is nowhere quite like this in Birchington. It’s got those modern design touches while being careful to play to all age groups. Cleverly done and a lovely place to sit *****

Staff: Friendly waitress but – perhaps I’m being mean here – I thought 20 minutes was a tad too long to wait ***

Price: For two of us the total bill was £22. Make that £17 if you want to save on the Cokes. A good deal for very tasty grub ****

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