New head chef, new menu was a statement that certainly caught my attention and I was excited to see what this trendy Vauxhall Arches restaurant had to offer. Fortunately, as soon as I jumped off the Victoria Line on a very cold Friday evening, I could see the entrance to the restaurant straight in front of me.
The first thing I noticed was the size of the restaurant, stretching from one end of the arch to the other with a separate bar at the back. The modern style of COUNTER, matched with the equally cool music playing gave off an urban-chic relaxed vibe. We were taken to our seats and presented with the menu, eager to see what we would order.
To start I chose the pulled Gressingham duck taco. This is a unique breed of duck and is best known for its meaty and succulent gamey flavour, with much less fat than similar birds. I had expected a hard shell taco rather than a soft wrap, however, as soon as delving into the tender thick strips of meat, accompanied by crunchy pieces of cucumber and a sweet and sour sauce, it was not a problem at all.
As soon as I saw foie gras was on the menu, I knew my guest would look no further. The subtle but sharp addition of the fig chutney on top of the buttery foie gras along with the crispy sweet brioche was a delight and set a high bar for the rest of the meal to come.
I took our waiter’s recommendation and ordered their special for the evening which was the lobster and crayfish burger. As soon as I had the plate of food in front of me I had to remind myself of my manners and wait for my guest to be served. I’m all for picking up a burger and tucking right in, but this was so generously packed full of fleshy meaty lobster and succulent pieces of crayfish that I had to cut it in half and enjoy it this way. The tangy house tartare sauce went perfectly with this deliciously decadent dish…not to mention the perfectly cooked chips.
My guest ordered the seared tuna steak. Seared being the optimum word – when gliding the knife into the steak it revealed a beautifully deep pink colour. A bed of silkily smooth celeriac puree and sticky sweet golden beetroot salsa effortlessly accompanied the tuna which was a match made in culinary heaven.
For dessert I had the baked cheesecake, which when first brought out was dressed with walnuts. However, due to my allergy for this specific nut I had to ask if it was possible to have a piece without. Our waiter was quick to amend this and brought me a new slice of the well selected pud! The sweet toffee sauce packed a punch, marrying the subtle creamy cheese flavour, which greeted my taste buds with such delight and was the perfect end to a great meal.
My guest chose the pistachio brownie which had a dark, yet not at all bitter chocolaty flavour and mixed with vibrant green crunchy pistachios made for a sweet delicacy worth every calorie.
New head chef Mahrez Loukal has created an exciting Brasserie-style menu boasting such variety and really captures the style and atmosphere that COUNTER Vauxhall is aiming for. The restaurant is cool, quirky and is without a doubt putting Vauxhall on the culinary map.
COUNTER Vauxhall Arches
Arch 50, 7-11 South Lambeth Place
London, SW8 1SP