The Laughing Gravy in Southwark
Nestled in a relatively nondescript looking building next to a Pret and a Sainsbury’s in the no man’s land between Borough and Waterloo, The Laughing Gravy bills itself as “London’s best kept secret”. If there’s one line that often promises so much and delivers so little, it’s that one. The city’s “gems”, “secrets” and “hideaways” have an awful tendency to fly under the radar for a reason.
Still, with a promising and pretty reasonably priced menu – three courses is going to set you back about £40 per head – it seems worth the gamble. The restaurant itself is warm and inviting, stylish but not trying too hard. And busy, remarkably busy actually. There’s a real buzz to the place and most of the tables are full at 7pm on a Wednesday on the wrong side of the river. That’s no easy feat and when the food comes, why exactly that is quickly becomes apparent.
Duck Terrine, Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Pate, with a cherry glaze, sour cherry puree and candied hazelnut reads like a dream and tastes like it too. The candied nuts in particular are a great touch, their sweetness working beautifully with the foie gras. A slick of excellent cherry puree cuts through the whole thing, a perfect foil for the rich duck, and a little blob of cherry glaze hides a ball of liver, à la Heston’s meat fruit, that tastes as good as it looks.
Pan-fried market fish with braised leek, kale, buttered new potatoes and Brixham crab broth is also excellent, the salty broth studded with bright young vegetables. The sole itself is nicely seasoned and gets that magic combination of seared top and perfectly tender flesh beneath just right. It’s the other main that steals the show, though. Wild Mushroom Venison Fillet Wellington, with tender stem broccoli, white truffle celeriac puree scattered with toasted almonds.The venison is robust enough to match the truffle blow for blow, and perfectly cooked. The celeriac and almonds give a creamy base for the more intense flavours and stop the dish from being too overwhelmingly rich. The pastry could do with being a little crisper, but it’s a fairly minor complaint for what’s an otherwise brilliant dish.
Milk Jam Ice Cream Sundae Sandwich, with candied nuts, peanut butter cream, white chocolate popcorn mousse, continues the hot streak, the intense blobs of flavoured cream and mousse. Salted Caramel Mousse with vanilla fudge, shortbread and chocolate rum ganache-filled caramac cylinder is brilliant, though you wouldn’t notice the difference between the caramac and any mild white or even milk chocolate, so potent are the other flavours. The ganache in particular packs a real punch, a hefty right hook of velvety chocolate intensity, spiked through with rum.
If you needed one moment to sum up our time at The Laughing Gravy, that’s when the 4th dessert arrived, to groans of stomachs stuffed to bursting, and every plate was still cleaned, every last piece still savoured. Food that compelling is worthy of special praise and we have to hand it to them: this place might very well be “one of London’s best kept secrets” after all.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
To book a table at The Laughing Gravy, 154 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, SE1 8EN, call 020 7998 1707 or visit here.