Counter Culture rightly pits themselves as the naughty little brother of The Dairy restaurant next door. A small Tapas bar but not as you know it. For one, the plates are slightly bigger than your regular tapas portion and two, I bet your local tapas bar doesn’t come with the awesome atmosphere (and badass soundtrack) that Counter Culture boasts. For a little brother, this one is certainly brimming with character!
Yes, it’s tiny (only 15 seats – there’s more people around my kitchen table at Christmas!). I almost felt like I was imposing on the chef as I could see him carefully yet effortlessly preparing the dishes right before us, however, Counter Culture still has the feel of a restaurant with excellent table service and “Instagrammable” fine dining.
There is a short menu to select from (look out for specials like chicken liver mousse announced on the chalkboard). The kitchen was attentive to my dietary requirements and offered me alternatives and any dairy to be served on the side (I may or may not have suggested that I would be tasting it anyway). The first of the small plates was slices of toasted sourdough (this was a substitute for me), with soft Nduja – spicy sausage almost like salami in a paste-like spreadable texture with a strong chilli heat coming through and cultured cream which had a smooth and thick consistency and had slightly bitter and sweet notes.
With this, we were treated to warm sour potato flatbread with Nduja and cultured cream – so tasty, there’s just something special about eating bread when it’s still warm and this was even more delicious because of the cake-like texture.
Next up, smoked salmon with cucumber and fermented Dulse (red seaweed), Monksbeard (a green vegetable originating from Tuscany) and cucumber freshness creating a soft and fresh crunchy texture, the combination of natural flavours is enhanced by the citrus juices. I also loved the plated presentation.
We then tasted the Baron Bigod (a creamy Brie artisan cheese), calcot tops and fried bread; a small mountain of golden brown crunchy/crispy flakes on the tasty greens with the strong, unique taste of creamy blue cheese served on the side. These flavours, textures and tastes really complemented one another.
Last of the savoury orders was our Parmesan agnolotti (pasta squares) with whey and wild garlic. This is a fresh pasta dish which I was pleased to find was served warm with crunchy hazelnuts, and a lovely Parmesan sauce. It’s clear that a lot of thought goes into the combination of flavours and textures and they’ve nailed the formula.
My dessert was sent especially from The Dairy’s menu next door (Dessert Diva – some might say) but seriously, the kitchen kindly offered this as a substitute. Usually served with Ollebrod – Danish porridge, blood orange marmalade, whey sorbet; I was presented with the softest and smoothest of pink almond ice cream sprinkled with almonds and paired with segments of blood orange which gave a sharp taste mixed with sweetness and crunchiness.
My guest delighted in ordering the caramelised white chocolate with rhubarb, the biscuit ingredient which was almost like huge slabs of shortcake in a deliciously sweet sauce.
So how much will this fancy tapas set you back? The four small plates and two desserts we had (one from The Dairy) came to: £40.00 total, £20 each, bargain! If we ordered all of the small plates and two desserts to share, this would have worked out at: £64.50 total £32.25 each. Please note, this price does not include beverages (Smooth fizz Prosecco (£7) and Winter Bellini (£8)
And lastly, if you get the chance to meet Coco, you’ll never forget her! Legend.