Revisited: Counter, Vauxhall Arches

Out Of Office Magazine was invited back to Counter,  a bar and brasserie nestled under the railway arches at Vauxhall station, try the new menu 

Counter changes its menu regularly so we were delighted to be invited back almost a year on from our first visit.

To kick of our experience we opted for two contrasting, yet equally delicious, cocktails – Chinapolitan consisting of zubrowka vodkka, sweet lychee and lime, and the Central Park, a Jim Bean Double Oak and apricot mix. Note that Happy Hour runs from 5-7pm every day with a good selection of cocktails, wines and beers.

On to the food… For starters we had the scallops with boudin noir AKA black pudding. Although known as blood sausage this recipe bears no resemblance to it usual solid consistency, in fact it’s smooth and creamy, and paired perfectly with the shellfish. We also shared a charcuterie board, before embarking on a chateaubriand board for two.

The steak was accompanied with chips, potato dauphinoise, portobello mushrooms and stuffed tomatoes. It was cooked perfectly (medium rare), while the mushrooms and potato dauphinoise were the perfect sidekicks. But… although the chips were delicious it put our carb count up a bit much and the mince-stuffed tomatoes were too rich and filling for this meal.

While we feeling rather full, we seldom can resist a dessert and opted for the chocolate fondant with an orange sorbet.  A deep and tangy mix, it was worth the 15-minute wait.

All in all, we were thrilled to  return to this modern brasserie and would recommend it for staff or clients drinks, dinners, meetings or functions.

What? An independent restaurant serving  flavoursome food, a wide selections of wine and cocktails. They also have private hire options.

Why choose Counter? Those who appreciate architecture and good food will feel at home here. We’re also thrilled to say the restaurant is  a much better temperature than last time, so no jumpers needed!

Cost: ££

Arch 50, 7-11 South Lambeth Place, London SW8 1SP
020 3693 9600
www.counterrestaurants.com

 

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Review: Brother Marcus, Balham

Out Of Office Magazine reviews Brother Marcus, a cool cafe bar in Balham offering up tasty brunches, small plates, coffees and cocktails 
 
In the south of metropolis London, we find quaint brunch, lunch and cocktail café Brother Marcus. Located in Balham it’s just a short walk from the station and easily identifiable with the chalkboard black exterior and white stamped name.

Upon entering you are immediately submerged into a rustic warehouse feel.  You may switch off at this moment as, like us, you may agree that this style is often overused at present in many coffee shops.  But, bear with me…

Unlike many chains, Brother Marcus has created an authentic rustic feel. Each piece of furniture appears to have been hand selected by the brothers to outfit their small enterprise and it’s not one bit pretentious.

Greeted by the smiling waitress we were shown to our table. To start, a soy latte and the highly recommended cappuccino. Proper Italian coffee served at a just hot enough temperature, so all notes of bitterness are avoided.

For the main courses we chose the Sister Special and a Marcus Breakfast. The former, a delightful combination of crispy bacon and perfectly poached eggs with spinach, watercress and avocado ‒ all served on a slice of toast. The latter, pork belly crispy and tender in all the right places with a small side of greens, served on a pitta.

After eating, we were relayed the story of how they started ‒ two brothers (aptly enough) came together to provide a space for the young and old to drink good coffee, eat tasty food and chat.  A quick tour of the place shows that they have plans with a good sized outdoor area as well.

What? A casual coffee shop selling great coffee and well crafted food in South London.

Why choose Brother Marcus? Perfect for a catch-up or low intensity meeting with a client or supplier, or for a small team meal. Keep an eye out for special events in their garden during the summer!

Cost: £

 9 Chestnut Grove, SW12 8JA

info@brothermarcus.co.uk

Review: Comptoir Libanais, Poland Street

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Out Of Office magazine reviews Comptoir Libanais, a vibrant Lebanese canteen in Poland Street 

Comptoir Libanais is a busy casual Lebanese canteen with 15 locations across the UK, with another two opening soon.

We visited Poland Street in Soho, a short walk from Oxford Circus. As you walk in the atmosphere is busy with an exposed deli-style kitchen where you can see the chefs cooking up all that you’d expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant, such as tagine, falafel and mezze.

We opted for the hot mezze platter which came with Baba ghanuj, houmous, tabbouleh, falafel, lentil salad, cheese sambousek, pickles and pita bread, along with some halloumi and lamb kibbeh. It was delicious, authentic and was served at speed.

We washed it down with a Heritage Plaisir du Vin, which is a Lebanese wine. The wine was fruity, smoky and full bodied, yet easy drinking. We hadn’t tried a Lebanese wine before and would certainly have it again!

What?  A busy casual Lebanese canteen with plenty of locations across the UK to choose from.

Why choose Comptoir Libanais? If you’re looking for a casual lunch with a flavorsome array of food served quickly, then this is a great choice. There are also many delights on sale to take home with you, from wine and pastries, to spices and sweets.

Cost: £

52 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 7NQ

02074344335

www.comptoirlibanais.com

Review: Balans Soho Society, Seven Dials, London

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Out Of Office Magazine visits the newly opened Balans Soho Society café at Seven Dials

This recently opened venue on Monmouth Street is the sixth location in the Balans family and modelled on the Soho café style. It’s simple, sleek, bistro style is clean and cosy – much like our seat specially reserved for us in the corner of the restaurant.

Also like our visit to the Kensington restaurant, the staff were friendly, attentive and well-informed about the variety of food and drink on offer. We also learnt that, like the Kensington restaurant, a staff member had left for an adventure and landed back at Balans a few years later – it seems they are a good employer with employees only enthusiastic to return.

We started with the seared scallops – perfectly cooked but a small portion that left you wanting a little more – plus the lamb pastilla, which was filling and tender. For our mains, we opted for the 10 oz sirloin steak cooked medium rare and the Cornish crab linguine that certainly didn’t skimp on the chilli!

Too full for dessert we stayed for another glass of malbec and merlot, happy in our surroundings. While we relaxed, a waiter dropped a full tray of glasses but the staff took it in their stride with a smile. (Very unlucky considering they had just opened!)

What? A great addition to the Balans Soho Society collection. Close to Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square.

Why choose Balans? Nice for for a planned brunch, lunch or dinner out, or a spur of the moment occasion. The menu is varied with international influences and changes regularly.

Cost: ££

32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9HA

020 7836 2982

www.balans.co.uk

Review: Turntable, Chancery Lane, London

Out Of Office Magazine visits Turntable, a new bar and restaurant serving South East Asian food to the sound of soul in London

Minutes away from busy Chancery Lane is Turntable, a brand new bar and restaurant that has just opened its doors offering something different and fresh, with smooth musical nostalgia.

Entering the new location, we were taken by the sleek, black and modern décor and greeted by friendly cocktail masters with flair. Bottles were flying and in minutes we sipped our first drinks: Smooth Criminal, with Malibu, avocado and pineapple, and a Jungle Boogie, similar to a mojito with a fruity twist.

After our boozy indulgence we made our way downstairs for dinner. The downstairs is for eating, drinking and… dancing. As its namesake hints, the music is big part of the atmosphere and the DJs spin nothing but vinyl. There is also an arty display of old vinyls throughout the venue.

While chilled soul, funk and hip-hop played we were treated to an assault of flavours, chased down with Vidal Sauvignon Blanc and Septima Malbec. Our highlights had to be the Crab Fried Rice, Chicken Laska Lemak and Beef Rendang. The chocolate brownie (and a few more cocktails) rounded the night off perfectly.

What? This is a fresh bar and kitchen launched by newcomers to the restaurant trade. Born from a love of food, cocktails and music, Turntable went from dream to reality in just eight weeks. The Chancery Lane/Farringdon area has something new.

Why choose Turntable? Turntable has a welcoming atmosphere, tasty food and the crackle of a good vinyl – which, unfortunately is often very hard to find ‘these days’.

Cost: ££

7-9 Norwich Street EC4A 1EJ

020 7112 9179

www.turntable.london