★★★★ | The Laughing Gravy
A restaurant with a funny name sits between Southwark tube stop and Elephant & Castle – it’s The Laughing Gravy.
Blackfriars Road is a bit of a restaurant no man’s land. Right near Southwark Tube station is the excellent upscale Polish restaurant Baltic, and then a few blocks south is The Laughing Gravy, nestled into it’s spot amidst the new expensive apartment blocks and conversions that have made this neighbourhood upscale.
And upscale you will need to be as The Laughing Gravy is not cheap. Most of the hearty mains are priced between £22 and £24 each (though there are few lesser-priced options as well), while the starters are all above £8 each and the puddings no less than £7.50. The Laughing Gravy has been operating as a restaurant for around 6 years, and they are definitely doing something right. Head chef Michael Facey, along with a very friendly staff, deliver a varied modern British Menu, and it has just been named best restaurant in the Southwark and Waterloo area by Time Out.
There is truly something for everyone at The Laughing Gravy. The starters range from Pigeon and Oxtail Sausage Roll to the Roasted and Pickled Heritage Beetroot and the Wild Garlic Infused Roasted Artichoke. The Beetroot (at £8.50) was an absolute explosion of colours and flavours. Served on a black plate, it was a rainbow of beetroot with goat’s cheese and apple puree, candied cashews and kale. Served as a cold dish, it was sexy and perfect. The Artichoke starter was quite the opposite, a bit bland, though the artichoke puree and potatoes saved it from being a total waste – though at £8.50 there wasn’t a whole lot on the plate.
For the main course, my dining companion and I decided to have meat and fish. I ordered the Lincolnshire rib eye steak (225 grams), and I am glad I did. With onions, plum tomatoes and mushrooms, it was perfectly cooked (I asked for M to MW), and that’s exactly what I got. Both sides were cooked dark brown, and it was tender and scrumptious. It was served, under the meat, with delicious Madeira (wine) sauce. At £23, it was worth every penny. My companion had the Roast Lemon Sole (£22.50), and it was a panoply of seafood. Not just sole, the dish also included Devonshire crab and sweetcorn dumplings, kale, braised celery and sweetcorn curd and crab bisque. She was very happy with her portion, which I thought was a good value considering how much seafood was on the plate. Other menu choices in the lower-priced range include the Aberdeen Angus burger (£13.50), Superfood Salad (£11.50), and the Roast Heritage Vegetables (£14.00). Other higher-priced recommended items include the Roast guinea fowl (£22), Pan-fried seabass (£22.50), and the Lamb Rump (£22.00). Sides are a must and include Hand cut or Truffle chips, or the excellent Salt baked champs (mash potato) (£4-5 each).
I recommend having a dessert as there was quite a selection. My companion had the Plum, quince, Madeira and honey crumble, and it was just as we expected, crumbly delicious. I had the Champagne, mango and lime cheesecake, and it was small yet heavy and came with a tiny doughnut. Next time I will order the Treacle and apple tart or the Salted caramel mousse (£7.50 to £8.50).
The restaurant’s wine, beer and cocktail list goes on for days. There are about 24 cocktails to choose from, my companion was happy with her margarita, while I was happy with my Lemon Drop (Ketel One vodka, fresh lemon juice and Cointreau) – though it was very sweet. Other options include the LG Bloody Mary to the Hazelnut Martini and the divinely sounding Waterloo Sunset (elderflower liqueur and gin topped with champagne and Chambord – and the most expensive drink on the menu at £13.50). With my steak, I had the full-bodied and delicious French 2014 Cotés du Rhone – highly recommended. The Laughing Gravy’s wine list includes wine from other countries including Italy and Spain – it’s one of the most exhaustive wine lists I’ve ever seen.
The Laughing Gravy sits about 50 people, it’s got a small welcoming bar past the entrance, and a room that’s big with high-pitched ceilings. Beautiful wood floors and a smart decor makes The Laughing Gravy cosy and comfortable. Noise levels get a bit high when they are busy (we were there on a Saturday night), but it’s bearable. The staff are very welcoming and our waiter Oliver and hostess Freddi made us very welcome from beginning to end, including when I accidentally put the menu on top of the candle and it caught on fire. Luckily the restaurant survived the fire though your wallet might not be so lucky.
Reviewed by Tim Baros
Telephone: 020 7998 1707
Monday to Thursday: 1200 – 1500 & 1700 – 2200
Friday: 1200 – 1500 & 1700 – 2230
Saturday: 1200 – 1600 & 1700 – 2230
Sunday: 1200 – 1630
Address: 154 BLACKFRIARS ROAD, LONDON SE1 8EN
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.