DINNER & DECOR: COUNTER, VAUXHALL
It's been a few weeks since I last got my grub on to bring you the best of London's Dinner & Decor - the coolest / tastiest / snazziest restaurants with both munch and interiors that will whet your appetite. Today I'm reviewing Counter in Vauxhall, a restaurant and bar that sits in the arches of Vauxhall train station. And this little spot definitely over delivered...
First impressions were a little deceiving. The arch looks rather small but inside opens out to what feels like a much, much larger space. I have to say the graffiti outside (in my opinion) didn't really give the same impression that the inside of the space did. It wasn't a bad impression, just the tone was slightly different between indoor and outdoor. I'm always down for a bit of graffiti but think it was less needed here as the more sophisticated look inside Counter was more in keeping with the food (which I'll get to in a minute)!
The restaurant is full of cosy grey leather booths along either side and some more casual seating in the middle section. The lighting is low and ambient, with a stand out feature bar in the central length section of the arch.
There's a lot of statement pendant lighting, and table tops are marble with high shine chrome accessories, like the silver salt and pepper which I loved! I was also pretty obsessed with the orange menus which contrasted pretty well with the marble tops.
After being shown to our booth we checked out the cocktail menu. I opted for some kind of gin fizz (oops I forgot the name) which was refreshing and herby with a sprig of rosemary for added fragrance, which was perfect! Jason had the 'counter punch' which was fruity and not too sweet.
Drinks in, we got to ordering...
BTW, service so far had been flippin' awesome!
I went for the Tuna tartare special to start, so kindly 'sold' to us by our waiter (it didn't need much selling to be honest, I was all over it) and Jason went for the Buttermilk fried rabbit with slaw.
The tuna tartare was excellent - salty, tangy and fresh with a strong hint of lime and coriander. Perfectly portioned and very fragrant. The rabbit reminded me of chicken but with a slightly firmer texture, and was super tender and juicy on the inside but crispy and crunchy on the outside. Just how you want it! The slaw and the pomegranate seeds added a nice punch of juicy fresh flavour.
With those being polished off pretty quickly, our mains were just around the corner. I opted for a small portion of the crab salad (I love when restaurants offer smaller portions as I often can't eat everything) and Jason went for the poached halibut with spiced coconut puree. We also added sides of tenderstem broccoli with chilli and almond butter, plus some rosemary fries as they are my absolute fave!
Jason's halibut was cooked perfectly and the coconut sauce was an unusual but gorgeous accompaniment. The fried roasted peppers added a nice contrast of textures and added a new flavour. The broccoli worked really well with this dish! The broccoli by the way was so good that I'm going to definitely steal the recipe to make at home.
The perfectly sized crab salad was light, fresh and creamy. I added a tiny touch of salt to make the flavour pop and really enjoyed it. It also contained loads of crab which can sometimes be a bit of a crappy point for some restaurants and their stingy salads! My only down point was that I could have done with more rosemary salt on the fires, but I am one for really overdoing the rosemary salt so that might just be me.
We asked for a little time to digest and got to checking out the dessert menu. I went for the poached peach sundae and Jason opted for the salted caramel banana split. It was about to go downnnnn!
I also added a lovely JING jasmine tea to the equation!
My poached peach was GORGE. Definitely a contender for the best dessert I've eaten this year :) I really didn't want it to stop. It was mixed with chewy pieces of meringue and whipped cream. Heavenly! Jason's banana split was a new take on an old classic, with salted caramel upping the levels of this bad boy.
I have to say I really enjoyed our dinner at Counter. I have to also add that the music was perfect! A brilliant soundtrack of funk and disco that was loud enough to be enjoyed but also not intrude on convo. Ok that makes me sound like such a granny but I think things like that are really important!
Overall, this is a more casual take on an evening dining spot, but still sophisticated enough to feel like it's a treat. Food and service were brilliant and the interiors were smart without being snobby. Mood lighting and nice finishes like marble and chrome took it up a level and with fresh, tasty food I can see Counter doing really well. Take yourself down there before everyone finds out about it!