Tucked away in a 200-foot long arch just a stones throw from the station, COUNTER Vauxhall Arches brings a retro yet sophisticated dining experience to SW8.
Cranky commuters looking for a pit-stop when their train to Waterloo is delayed will get more than they bargained for when they pop into the hipster-esque restaurant under the Vauxhall arch.
Although seemingly inconspicuous from the outside, the bar and brasserie is officially London’s longest restaurant housed in a 200-foot long arch — long enough to accommodate Nelson’s Column.
BRIGHT: The evening sun gleamed through the whole restaurant
The extensive cocktail menu left me spoilt for choice, so, after asking the waitress for more time three times, I did what anyone would do and panicked and ordered the first one on the menu — a Goding Fizz — Beefeater infused with rosemary and cucumber, lavender syrup and Fever-Tree bitter lemon.
Priced at a pretty average £9 it was nice to have a cocktail that wasn’t just all juice and ice. It’s fresh botanical appearance was evident through the flavours and I was pleased I could actually taste the lavender.
The Vauxhall Vespa certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted — a fierce concoction of Bombay Sapphire, Tito’s vodka, sweet vermouth, Cointreau and orange bitters. It certainly cleansed my palate.
SIGNATURE COCKTAILS: Vauxhall Vespa and Goding Fizz
Enticed by the starters, you stay for the French and American inspired dishes.
I chose something slightly less sophisticated for my starter — mac and cheese balls! And they didn’t disappoint.
Having looked at the menu prior to my visit I had seen the mac and cheese balls on the starter menu and been thinking about them ever since.
Upon looking at the menu in the restaurant I was disheartened to see they were there, but only as a side. However, the accommodating staff were more than happy to let me have it as a starter. Phew.
The little balls of fun were cheesey, crunchy and hot and not too big for a starter.
Although the chipotle dressing was a bit too spicy for me (but I order a plain at Nando’s…).
More adventurous dishes on the starter menu include pigeon pastrami, white asparagus and pâté de campagne.
STARTER/SIDE: Mac and cheese balls with chipotle dressing
Although tempted to order a burger, I decided to venture out (slightly) and go for the southern fried chicken with sweet potato, spring greens and poppy seed slaw.
I had expected actual sweet potato but was pleasantly surprised with the purée which added a nice twist to the meal — and in fact solid sweet potato may have been too filling.
The chicken was beautifully crispy on the outside and moist inside. But my favourite part of the dish was actually the spring greens. They were fresh, slightly al dente and full of flavour.
Veggie options included grilled cauliflower steak and black bean chilli. With fishy dishes including whole baked sea bass and octopus.
MAIN: Southern fried chicken, spring greens, sweet potato and poppy seed slaw
The hearty-sized portions left me too full for pudding — annoying because I already had my eye on the chocolate fondant. But at least it gives me an excuse to go back.
The beautifully designed restaurant would be the perfect setting for a dinner party — and with the large bar and extensive cocktail and wine menu you really could be there all night.