Getting the train back to Kent after dinner in London can be problematic with the early last departure times. What other major city in the world closes down it’s transport network before 00:30? I often find I have to leave my friends happily enjoying yet another bottle of wine to ensure I make the last one. It annoys me.
A solution has now been found though in Counter, located just outside Vauxhall Station making it super easy to get back to Victoria. Officially the longest restaurant in London, Counter is housed in a 200ft long railway arch and is an all day bar/brasserie with a Manhattan vibe. For this alone it is worth a visit.
Stepping inside you first notice the teak floor just prior to the four sided brass topped bar, custom light fittings giving out a warm glow and the leather dining booths that stretch down the sides of the room leading to the BackCOUNTER. Even at 19:00 there was a good vibe and plenty of people enjoying a post work beer or cocktails at the start of their evening. Although long it is not cavernous but can seat 175 people. I hoped it would be as impressive as it looked, I certainly liked the interior and especially the antique mirrors.
I started off having a chat and bottle of house wine with Philip Reicherstorfer, a former City man and founder of the restaurant. We discussed the work involved transforming the space into a restaurant as the arches are listed requiring planning nouse to overcome and work with the imposed restrictions. I am pleased that he made the effort as Vauxhall has not historically been a hot bed for good food so to come in and pave the way can only be a good thing. I would love to go back for lunch where an ever changing Lunch Rapide is offered for just £10 (1 main dish and a small wine or beer) which sounds like an absolute bargain.
The menu, overseen by head chef Dan Blucertis is not extensive but it doesn’t need to be. I started with Gumbo containing jumbo shrimp, smoked sausage, okra and peppers which had a serious punch even for a chilli lover.
The Counter burger which was large, succulent and packed a lot of flavour. It was juicy and worked well with the Gruyère cheese, bacon jam, ketchup, dill pickles and mustard. The fries came in a generous portion.
The lamb with roasted tomatoes was fantastic. Pink and served with artichokes and an abundance of bay aubergine it was a perfect spring dish and a very generous portion.
If this wasn’t enough I also tried the mac and cheese balls, deep fried, golden and delicious but to be honest I could not manage them all such were the portion sizes.
To follow we indulged in a Rhubarb yoghurt pannacotta, almond biscuit, vanilla and strawberries which was light with a beautiful tang.
And finally a Meringue with lemon and buttermilk ice cream, raspberry compote and lemon curd which worked really well.
If you are looking for proper portion sizes that fill a hungry man, a good accessible location and decent booze then Counter deserves to be visited. It is a gem.