COUNTER Bar & Brasserie, Vauxhall

Drag nights and delicious food don’t normally go hand in hand.  But bear with me.  Counter in Vauxhall may just be the first to achieve both with equal brilliance.

Enter COUNTER and you’ll be immediately swept away by its size.  Long railway arches (200 foot long, making COUNTER officially London’s largest restaurant) house the all-day bar and brasserie, which serves innovative food that pops and sizzles off your plate.

If you’re lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with the owner, make sure you do.  His excitement is infectious.  It is his creative genius that thought it’s not quite enough to create exciting American and French inspired food for South London folk, why not go one step further and add an element of drag disco when possible as well.

Think about it for just a second and it all makes sense.  Of course the traditional brasserie is begging to be brought up to date for the weird, wacky and wonderful 21st century.  Combining the heritage of Vauxhall’s historic reputation for pleasure-seeking with its emerging skyline and recent development projects in the area, COUNTER is set to be not just a welcome community addition, but a welcome London addition in general.

But what’s a restaurant without its food and COUNTER’s food is every bit as good as all the pop and sizzle suggests.  The menu is updated seasonally so what’s fresh in summer will be showcased in COUNTER’s signature imaginative ways.

Pigeon pastrami, pickled chard, spiced syrup and rye bread, with its highly intentional nod to Jewish New York is an exciting twist on a Yiddish favourite.  The pigeon adding a gamey undertone to the peppered deli slices and the chard being a not so unwelcome visitor in the pickling game.

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Tostada, stone bass fillet ceviche, corn tortilla, avocado, yuzu vinaigrette and black sesame is a colourful explosion of Mexican inspired dinnertime fiesta.  Smooth, sweet fish meets a tangy, spicy dressing in a match guaranteed to make you wonder why you left your sombrero at home.

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Fruit de mer and black rice comes piled high with fresh octopus, shrimp, clams, peppers and saffron aioli.  The seafood adds the perfect contrast in both colour and flavour to the deep, heady tones of the goth-esque rice.

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Flank steak, as pink as a drunken drag queen’s cheeks, is served alongside baby leeks, asparagus, and spring onions, all of which have been coated in a savoury brown butter béarnaise.  It’s as good as any steak dish could ever hope to be.

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And then there’s the disco.  Go on a Saturday for Sassy Saturdays, a regular cabaret series hosted by international show girl The Ivy Paige and Australian comedian par excellence Dusty Limits. For each show they are joined by special guests.  Think uber indulgence and glitz and glamour taken to whole new levels of fun.

That’s the thing about COUNTER.  It reads a lot like an M&S ad.  This is not just a restaurant, it’s a Vauxhall bar & brasserie with a deco disco to boot.  Simply worth a visit, and quickly.

For more info, visit the website: http://www.counterrestaurants.com/ or call: 020 3693 9600.

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