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

Bar + Block Steakhouse, King’s Cross London

Out Of Office Magazine visited Bar + Block in King’s Cross London to sample their steaks and was blown away by the quality of the cuts of meat and customer service

Since King’s Cross’ substantial redevelopment it’s certainly not short of great places to eat and drink. Once an industrial wasteland, it’s now a  busy setting with plenty to see and do.

One of the restaurants we’d recommend is Bar + Block Steakhouse on York Way, a short walk from King’s Cross St Pancras station.

All of the beef comes from cattle reared across the Pampas in South America and is aged for a minimum of 28 days and hand-cut, which means you can have your steak the size you like it.

We opted for a 10oz sirloin and fillet, and shared the sweet potato fries with chorizo, feta and coriander (as well as the beef dripping chunky chips which come as standard!). The chimichurri sauce on the side was a good spicy accompaniment recommended by our friendly, helpful and knowledgeable waiter.

The beef was tender and cooked to perfection (rare for the fillet, medium-rare for the sirloin), and we washed it down with a full bodied bottle of Beefsteak Malbec.

Somehow we found room for dessert. We had the sticky toffee pudding and triple chocolate brownie, which were both delicious and rich. Plus a little extra treat for my guest as the waiter found out it was his birthday and had all the staff sing!

What? A lively restaurant offering a great steakhouse experience. Don’t be fooled though, they also offer up roasts with all the trimmings on Sundays, steak and eggs for breakfast and some tasty fish dishes for lunch and dinner.

Why Choose Bar + Block? If you like steak, a combination of bold flavours and great service – go here.

Cost: ££

26-30 York Way, London, N1 9AA

020 3889 8888

http://www.barandblock.co.uk

Review: Islington Town House, Angel

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Out Of Office Magazine reviews The Islington Town House, a cosy pub built in the late 18th Century 

In Angel where Liverpool Road meets Chapel Market lies The Islington Town House, a self-proclaimed ‘after work de-stressing’ pub. 

The nooks and crannies of this place emphasise the age of the property and create a warm and intimate feel across three floors. 

It serves small plates and sharing dishes,  ranging from octopus carpaccio to pork chops and fries. Following a discussion with the highly knowledgeable server, a number of small dishes were brought out.  Their famous soufflé, raved about on Tripadvisor, is everything that its built up to be, with its perfectly cooked and the melt in the mouth texture it was the highlight of the meal.

Along with the soufflé, the baked camembert is another favourite on other review sites and again lives up to expectations. It’s provided with a selection of toasted ciabatta slices.

The steak tartare was also delicious, moist and went well with the crisp toast provide, while the octopus carpaccio was a fresh and zesty small side dish. 

What? A cosy pub in Angel offering up an extensive range of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails, as well as an interesting menu of small plates and sharing dishes.

Why choose The Islington Town House? If you’re looking for a pub for lunchtime or after work drinking and nibbling with charm and character, we’d certainly recommend giving it a try.

Cost: ££

The Islington Town House, 13 Liverpool Road, N1 0RW

0203 637 6424

www.islingtontownhouse.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