LONDON EATERIES – An Encounter with Counter
Secluded under the shadows of the Vauxhall arches is a groovy bistro – bright colours beaming from its snug burrow. The gastronomic façade of Vauxhall is constantly changing, so it is essential for new venues to establish an identity in this rapidly transforming area. So what is the character of Counter?
Stepping inside from the monotonous bus station, one’s spirit is instantly lifted by the luminous bar and not being a morning person, and often exhibiting “hangriest” traits, I was relieved to be seated in one of the offset booths opposite the bar. This time I wasn’t accompanied by the other half but invited a dear friend who lives locally. It was an ideal opportunity for a good catch up over a good meal! Brunch kicked off with a refreshing Aperol spritz although I was sorely tempted by the D-I-Y bellinis! Unfortunately I had to restrain myself as I had to play a tennis match later that day. Luckily I had no such reservations when it came to food so I decided to indulge my stomach a bit!
I was pleasantly surprised with the selection and variety offered on the menu. I started with the Prawn Cocktail which was innovative in its presentation, considering the standard prawn cocktail is usually just a pinkish splodge in a little glass bowl. It was refreshing and light, and perfectly accompanied my ONE (self imposed) alcoholic beverage. My companion had the scallops which were flavoursome and perfectly cooked. All in all, a perfect start to a our brunch.
I cannot reiterate how imperative it is for small businesses to establish their individuality against the tireless sameness of the generic chains that now engulf our high streets. It is disturbing how high rents in central London are stifling these much needed oases, leaving only the mundane, dry, big chains to choose from. We, the consumer, need to take responsibility for the decline of small business as well. By not supporting them and choosing instead to spend our time and money in the ever-encroaching chains, we are complicit in their decline and failure.
Anyway, enough of the guilt trip, let’s get back to the meal. As I was going to be very active later in the day, I ordered a high protein brunch, basically steak and eggs. As someone who prefers his steak rare, it was just a trifle too well done for my liking, but not really worth splitting hairs over. The eggs, however, were perfect – the yolks were beautifully golden and gooey. I get very grumpy when the yolks resemble a hard-boiled walnut, and I certainly have no qualms in sending a plate back to the kitchen, which was thankfully not necessary. My companion was being outrageously healthy and ordered the mackerel. Again, the variety just added to the appeal of Counter. If you want to eat healthy, you can and if you want to stuff your face with French toast and cream, then that’s available as well.
I say, next time you want a satisfying brunch, walk past those high street chains with their predictable banality, and venture into Counter. Choose to support those evermore rare small businesses that are disappearing from your area. Give Counter your backing, and let them revive the faded tapestry that used to be your high street.
The Counter, 50 S Lambeth Pl, London SW8 1SP
Heart London 5 * Rating
Darren, Heart London Magazine