It’s not often we head to Vauxhall in search of the hottest new food spot, but when repeated friends insisted we take the trip, we went to Counter under the Vauxhall arches to see what the fuss was about.
Nestled literally under the train arches (opposite Sainsbury’s for those not familiar with the area), is Counter, the all-day bar and brasserie serving a mix of French and American dishes.
It’s London’s longest restaurant (remember this for future pub quiz knowledge), and decked out in antique mirrors and glamourous art deco-style lighting and as soon as you’re inside it all feels a bit more a trendy neighbourhood in New York rather than, errr, Vauxhaull.
Now down to the food, it's open every day so whether it's morning brunch with the papers, lunch with friends (there's a £10 two-course option with wine), dinner after work or cocktails, it’s there.
There’s a large menu and although it wasn’t the most adventurous we’d seen, everything we had was well-put together with deliciously combined flavours.
From tortillas stuffed with creamy avocado cut with a tangy yuzu vinaigrette and cold smoked melt-in-your-mouth pigeon to classics such as French onion soup, pate and caeser salad. Not forgetting the indulgently-wonderful deep fried mac and cheese balls which we’re still having dreams about.
There’s a good-sized menu to choose your main meal from, from classic American dishes of burgers and fried chicken to delicately put together fish dishes of sea bream and halibut.
The fish we had was simple yet beautifully presented with flavours that complimented each other expertly while the burger was akin to those you might find at the likes of Meat Liquor or any of the other London favourites with dedicated fans. And both come with a range of fresh, colourful sides – the sprouting broccoli with bacon was our favourite.
When it comes to the sweet options, we weren’t disappointed with twists on the classics to please even the fussiest diners. Think perfect French pastries blended with indulgent-American desserts and you’re about there.
So, a blood orange tart with rhubarb topped with popping candy or Banoffee banana bread with dulche de leche popcorn – have you ever heard such a inviting phrase?!
It feels like somewhere which would fit in more comfortably in central London but that’s why we love it because of the way it’s landed with a style which will hopefully encourage others like it to come to the party.
No longer is Vauxhall just a grimy hub for passing through on the way to a nicer neighbourhood, Counter has successfully planted it on the map as a place to visit.