Counter 71 | A Seasonal Tasting Menu For Dinner, Cocktails In A Basement Bar For After…
When you think about a restaurant, what’s the first thing that pops into mind? Tables? Menus? Waiting staff?
Well, Counter 71 has none of these. In fact it just has a counter. It’s a beautiful, L-shaped belt of mottled green marble curving itself around a small kitchen, in which a trio of chefs busy themselves slicing, grilling, steaming, scorching, dusting, piping, and plating up a seemingly endless parade of delicate little dishes.
You’ll find it at 71 Nile street (hence the name) over in Shoreditch, and it’s the latest step up in the deliciously relentless ascent of omakase bars & chef’s tables around the city. And there’s a lot to be said for them – if you’re after somewhere special, then they’re a considerably more intimate restaurant experience. And at Counter 71, you’ll feel like you’re virtually inside the kitchen itself.
It’s helmed by the highly personable and extremely talented chef Joe Laker, who formerly manned the pans at the acclaimed Fenn before the cruel hand of fate closed its doors for good. Here, he’s created a space for just 16 people a night, with a single sitting in which he serves up a 15-course, all-British tasting menu. Laker truly invites you into his world for the night, and it almost feels more like a dinner party than a restaurant.
The food is genuinely wonderful, with a few of the standout dishes including a rich langoustine bisque with ginger & carrot (you’ll smell the aroma before it hits the counter, it’s glorious); a small pedestal of crispy chicken skin covered in white crab & dill; a delicate little English muffin topped with smoked egg & truffle cream; and a hight creative tomato dish, in which you’ll find half a dozen cherry tomatoes that have all been individually dehydrated to different levels, giving you an ever-intensifying spectrum of flavour.
The booze is quite varied, with everything from a wine pairing, to a simple cocktail, and just a beer if that’s what you fancy. In fact, the venue has its own bar downstair, in the form of Lowcountry, a basement cocktail joint that draws from US mid-coast areas like Georgia and North Carolina (Laker actually grew up in Alabama and South Carolina). The drinks here, besides sharing American influences, are created using science-y techniques like fat-washing and infusions. One drink, an old-fashioned riff named the ‘Fat-Fashioned features bacon-washed bourbon, maple syrup and creole bitters, and another, a Manhattan, is made with blueberry-infused whiskey.
Sounds very Counter-intuitive.
Counter 71 | 71 Nile Street, N1 7RD
Want a drink after? Head downstairs to their cocktail bar, Lowcountry…