SW8 is the latest London postcode to have an emerging food scene and thanks to Mahrez Loukal, COUNTER is leading the way. The restaurant’s new head chef has spent the last five years in Paris with La Rotonde de la Villette, having previously spent time in the kitchens of London’s Quaglino’s, Chez Bruce and Del Aziz.
The staff and management of COUNTER will testify to the popularity of Loukal’s new winter menu; they’re currently experiencing their busiest service since opening. And with a mouth-watering fusion of North African spices, quality British produce and Parisian flair, it’s not surprising at all.
The Wild Sea Trout and Granny Smith Apple Tartare starter is exquisitely presented, while the flavours are bursting with freshness. There’s a nice balance with the crème fraiche and chives, ingredients that were made to be eaten together. On the subject of balance, likewise with the Burrata – a beautiful Italian cheese that oozes out once cut into like a perfectly poached egg – served with black olives and sorrel. Divine in its simplicity.
The Braised French Trimmed Lamb Shank, I’m told, is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. I’m not surprised. It’s beautiful! The meat falls away, as it should, and has an abundance of flavour in itself. Served with Imam Bayildi, an Ottoman-inspired side dish of stuffed aubergine with tomatoes, onion and garlic, it’s a wholesomely moreish delicacy.
The cuts of meat for the grill are sourced from Dedham Vale Farm and the Sirloin Steak that was ordered for the table was cooked absolutely perfectly – it’s so tricky to find a happy medium between medium/well done. Juicy and tender, you can taste the quality in every mouthful.
The Pistachio Brownie we ordered for dessert looked wonderful on the plate and tasted fantastic, though could have done with less density or perhaps more sauce to counteract its dryness.
With a fantastic fine wine selection and delicious cocktails to boot, this unassuming brasserie tucked under Vauxhall’s arches is a must visit. Soft on lighting and big on flavour, COUNTER has set the bar for SW8.
COUNTER’S all day Weekend Bottomless Bubbles £25pp invites diners to select two courses from the Brunch menu, whilst prosecco flows freely for 90 minutes. What’s more, COUNTER will be serving up its Weekend Brunch every day from 27 December to 2 January 2017.
Finally, COUNTER Vauxhall Arches is offering diners a fabulous three-course set menu for New Year’s Eve. Priced £39 until 7.30pm and £45 after 7.30pm. Open until: 1.30am. Booking at counterrestaurants.com