Counter (Vauxhall): where the Big Smoke gets a bite of the Big Apple

London and New York have been compared and contrasted so many times but I stand by what I’ve said in previous years:

They say New York is a city that never sleeps. London does, but then it wakes up and it wakes you up exactly when you need it to. You can easily get lost in all its pride and glory but this is when you realise the many ways you have been ‘found’.

I’ve been told many times “You’re definitely much of a New Yorker more than a Londoner!” There may be a slight truth to that but in my heart of hearts I know London is my home and I love this city more than anywhere else.

Admittedly though, as a foodie London can get frustrating. We have a lot of superduper amazing establishments that offer good food, but I’ve yet to be magically blown away to the land of unicorns. New York probably trumps us in this area which is why I’m not surprised with the little hints of the Big Apple’s food/restaurant trends hitting up the Big Smoke.

Enter Counter, an all-day brasserie serving New York style contemporary food and drinks in Vauxhall.

 

The place caters to a wide range of customers and the vibe is reflected on the strength of their menu offerings; there’s something delicious-sounding from brekkie to dindin to pre-night out snacks. Weekend brunch is a jazzy affair with live piano sessions to entertain you as you eat.

It’s tastefully decorated and reflects a really modern vibe that’s classy and not too hipster-ical. Kudos to the interior designers for making it cosy and relaxed, considering this place is under the railway arches!

As an all-day brasserie, I was delighted to find there is literally something for whichever time of day.

 

For brekkie, #eggporn obsessed punters would probs love their baked eggs (£8.5) served with truffled mushrooms, tomato, spinach, walnut pesto. I’ve had a bit of the shrooms and the spinach which were quite nice, but if I’m being honest this dish seemed like something even novice cooks can make at home.

The fruit juices and smoothies are heaps better, though. So if you’re one of those juicing maniacs you could count on their smoothies. I personally liked the classic apple, ginger, carrot concoction.
Counter’s banana stuffed french toast is probably their pop kid for brekkie, weekend brunch and Instagramming. Topped with crispy bacon and slathered with maple syrup, the thick slabs of brioche were pretty sexy (despite how unsexy all those calories can make you) and properly filled with banana.
The chicken Caesar salad (£14) is ideal for post-gym lunch. It’s a generous portion and packed with a whole lot of chicken although admittedly, some of the strips were a tad too dry for my liking.
Now, I’ve seen the Counter Burger (£12.5) tons of times from my favourite ‘grammers and food bloggers so I was really excited to have this for lunch. Served with fries at a decent price (teehee) I smacked my lips for a big bargain of a burger.

 

…except I was highly disappointed when it came dry and overcooked. The brioche bun was a tad too dry, too. I’ve also tried the Parisienne burger which fared better in terms of flavour but I’m not too sure burgers are their strongest suit.
For dinner, there’s nothing like a nice hearty soup to warm you up this season. Counter’s mushroom velouté (£8.5) is creamy and comforting. The touch of truffle is spot on and just the right amount to not overpower the earthy flavour of mushroom.
The scallops (£9.5) starter come in threes, paired with butternut squash purée and a teeny portion of sunchoke chips. Delicately seasoned, I like how the squash complements the sweetness of the molluscs.

 

Slightly less exciting is the baked cod (£16) with a dab of chilli and served with lemon toasted grains mâche. The fish fillet is of decent portion and cooked nicely but I have to say it lacked a bit of seasoning for my taste. Nothing a bit of salt and pepper can’t fix!
Now if you’re ballsy enough to venture out to Vauxhall for a night out and in dire need of bar munch, Counter’s bacon mac n’ cheese balls (£6) is a surefire treat.
Crispy, crunchy, cheesy and charmed with chipotle (har har), I could snack on these all day. The saltiness is balanced and the naughtiness of it welcomes your drinking capabilities.
And if you’re up for a tipple or two, they have a steady list of signature drinks as well as classics. They also have a separate bar called Backcounter Lounge inspired by chill out spots in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen.

 

They do make a good French Martini!
Overall, there really is something for everyone around the clock at Counter. I like the concept of the place – It’s a bite of the Big Apple in the Big Smoke, but have they bitten off more than they can chew? Sure there were a couple of hits and misses but the menu is quite exciting. Perhaps with a little love on execution this place can definitely be a South London standout.
Counter 
Vauxhall Station, South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, London SW8 1SP
Ave spend pp: £30

COUNTER Vauxhall Arches Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoSquare Meal

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4 Comments

  1. 14th December 2015 / 1:30 pm

    I've been and had the Parisienne burger – which I liked a lot, but it wasn't the best burger I've ever eaten. It's a nice enough place. I had to laugh at your comment about being a frustrated London foodie, when I first moved here I was so confused about why I couldn't find the good tasting food! You really have to search for that stuff sometimes, where as in other countries it just hits you in the face x

    • 15th December 2015 / 8:59 am

      Agree with the Parisienne burger! And the cheeseburger.
      Frankie, when I first moved here I had a packet of salt in my handbag all the time! Haha! I think you just learn to adapt to the tastes eventually! x

  2. 20th December 2015 / 5:50 pm

    It's a shame a couple of the dishes missed the mark, but it looks like Counter does comforting staples really well – I'd definitely go for that banana stuffed french toast (holla!) and those mac'n'cheese balls, oh my! And re the comment above – I always find that restaurants go for the extremes, undersalting or else going crazy with the sodium chloride (like at Salon!) x

    Tamsin / A Certain Adventure

    • 21st December 2015 / 12:56 pm

      You're right, they're either or. Salon is what kidney stones and problems are made of! Lol.