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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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: Balans Soho Society, Seven Dials, London

7dials_int_3

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: Gaucho Piccadilly

Gaucho
Out Of Office reviews Gaucho Piccadilly – one of London’s best steak restaurants for any occasion

Walking into Gaucho, it’s dark, sleek, chic and stylish. You’re greeted by friendly and professional receptionists, and as they take your coats and point you to the restaurant upstairs they are super apologetic about the current state of affairs. The restaurant may be undergoing a major  refurbishment downstairs, but it doesn’t impact the experience.

Like all the Gaucho restaurants the decor is a mixture of black, chrome and cow skin. The music is muted and cool, and and the chandeliers and bottles of booze make the place shine. It feels like a special location and, when the wine and dishes come out, it only gets better.

We kicked off our Gaucho experience with two gin cocktails – a Yerba 10 and an Alvear Royal – before embarking on a journey through the wine.

Oh the wine, well where do we begin? The wine list itself is an impressive booklet and one my guest was tempted to take away as bedtime reading. It’s detailed, informative and rather large because every Gaucho offers a bespoke range of Argentinian wine. From the crisp white Torrentés to the full bodied Malbec – you will find a superb mix, all hand-picked and many unavailable anywhere else. It’ not surprise that Gaucho offer a case service so that you can enjoy your new favourite wine at home.

On to the food. For starters we had a crab tostada and a tuna ceviche, each trying a different Torrentés as recommended by our seasoned waitress.

Followed by this was the main event, the steak. We had 300g of Lomo (fillet) and 300g of Ancho (rib eye), both cooked perfectly to our liking (medium rare, of course). Accompanying the beef were beef dripping chips, spinach and flat mushrooms finished with peppercorn sauce. The steak was so tender and juicy, and the sides so moreish we never wanted it to end. (In fact, my guest had a tear in his eye when his plate was cleared!)

Feeling blissfully content and yet too curious to pass up on having something sweet, we opted for the chocolate truffles and another glass of Malbec to round things off.

What? An Argentinian steakhouse around 5-10 minutes walk form Piccadilly Station. There are also locations across London, Dubai and Hong Kong. There are vegetarian options on the menu to, but the most extensive choices exist for wine and steak.

Why choose Gaucho Piccadilly? This is Gaucho’s flagship restaurant in London. The venue is welcoming, stylish and historical – it was once the home of a Spanish Ambassador and the small private dining room (perfect for meetings or small celebrations) has an impressive tiled wall.  A relatively new introduction to the menu is the business lunch, which our readers should certainly sample.

Also every Gaucho venue is perfect for private functions, whether it’s a standing reception or a formal awards ceremony the team are adept at tailoring and creating a bespoke service for clients.

While the venue is undergoing a nip and tuck (new downstairs to be unveiled soon) the experience is not interrupted. However, we are looking forward to being invited back and reporting an update once the work is finished…

Cost: £££

25 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4QR
020 7734 4040
www.gauchorestaurants.com

 

Review: Counter Vauxhall Arches

Counter entrance

Out Of Office reviews Counter an all day bar and brasserie serving French and American inspired dishes

Seconds from Vauxhall Station tucked under the railways arches is Counter, a modern brasserie serving an interesting mix of French and American style plates, from starters such as mac and cheese balls and pâté de campagne, to mains like Parisian gnocchi with oxtail and the Counter burger.

We opted for the mac and cheese balls and the tostada with stone bass fillet and avocado, followed by the halibut and hanger steak; everything was deliciously cooked and well seasoned. The menu proves the chefs are not afraid to use a host of different flavours and ingredients from around the globe.

To finish our meal we shared the cheese board with a full bodied glass of red each, recommended by our waiter.

There are three vegetarian options on the menu, but don’t be afraid to ask the staff to make a change for you – they all seem very happy to help.

Housed in a 200-foot long railway arch, the building is quite… airy – so our only caution would be to bring along a jumper in the winter as it can get rather chilly!

What? An independent restaurant serving  flavoursome food, a wide selections of wine and cocktails. They also have cabaret shows here if you’re looking to treat clients or staff to something a bit different.

Why choose Counter? Those who appreciate architecture and good food will feel at home here. To try a bit of everything (meat eaters) select the sharing menu for four for £120, complete with a bottle of Malbec.

Cost: ££

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