3 reviews of Laughing Gravy
Jim Thomson is right: DON'T TELL YOUR FRIENDS!! Okay, well, maybe your very closest friends. But that's it. This place is really very special... We used to live just around the corner from it. We know lives miles away but still travel "into town" to dine at Laughing Gravy. There is a bar area in front of the restuarant bit, and it's just as much fun (if not more) to eat in this area. The place does get full, especially on the weekends, so you are wise to book in advance.
I have had a huge variety of dishes there, my favourite being the Bison Burger that is frequently on offer. But evertime we have taken friends (we do so with discretion, usually only out-of-towners), they have been well-pleased with their meals.
The restaurant part isn't exactly cheap -- but compared to the West End or the City, or basically any of the trendier parts of town, it is excellent value for money.
Above all, the atmosphere is exceptional. The staff are genuine and laid-back, but attentive to service. The lights are low (with lovely fairy lights sprinkled about), and the music at a lovely level. All over, one of my top five favourite London establishments.
I was taken to Laughing Gravy as a birthday treat and what a treat it was! I cannot remember having such a superb culinary experience anywhere in this country before and it more than equalled some superb experiences I have had overseas too!
I only wish that I had written down the details of some of the dishes that were on offer yesterday. I started with scallops on a squid risotto nero. The scallops melted in the mouth and were served on a succulent bed of black risotto, with the freshest, most tender squid I have ever tasted. My other half went for the crayfish cocktail, which contained huge crayfish within a beautiful Marie Rose sauce. For main, I had the springbok, which was a new experience. We were advised that we ate this as it comes, rather than well done or rare etc. and they really know how to do it. Served with an exquisite gravy of, I think, port and fig on a bed of mashed swede, I really did not want this one to end!! The bison tournedos which my other half ordered was similarly divine, with the most amazing prosciutto crisps.
For dessert, the chocolate sponge cake to see off all other chocolate sponge cakes!! This had the most delicate texture that I can ever remember in a chocolate cake, served with a beautiful but not overly rich chocolate sauce. I could happily repeat the whole experience today!!
The wine list was very comprehensive but not so that it rendered you confused. The red Rioja that we chose was one of the best wines I can remember in a long time. I haven't even mentioned the friendly and helpful staff or the ambient surroundings. We paid around £100 for two, but we hadn't really held back! This is certainly one place that I shall go back to again and have recommended it to all my friends. Go there!!!
Situated almost anonymously on a main road heading south from the City, Lauging Gravy does its best to conceal its very existence. Thousands of commuters pass its unassuming entrance every evening, oblivious to the fact that here is a little gem. It's their loss.
The staff are effortlessly friendly, in that way that says "Yes, we know it's all good". The atmosphere, like everything else about the place, is eclectic. From the "Free Tibet" sticker at the entrance, to Stan and Ollie looking down upon the diners, it's simply impossible to pin down exactly what the proprietors are aiming for. Frankly, I doubt they know, but who cares? I hesitate to tell you how good the food is, because I know what'll happen. Hundreds of City fringe dwellers, tired of Islington, Hoxton and Clerkenwell, will grab their passports and head south of the river. For God's sake, you can walk it from Smiths of Smithfield in ten minutes, buy a superior steak, and still have enough change for a cab home.
As I write this, I'm sitting at my office desk, not 200 yards from Laughing Gravy. I don't have the menu with me, so you're not getting any detail. I thought I'd just tell you about my last few visits there. Last time out I had the best sirloin steak I've ever eaten (and those who know me will vouchsafe that I've eaten a few). The meat had been properly hung, was clearly top quality, and had been prepared to perfection. The jus it sat on came directly from Heaven, and the vegetables accompanying it were superb - fresh, crisp and flavoursome. The time before that I had spiced Sea Bass, wrapped and cooked in paper bark. Hot-spiced and accompanied by saffron-steamed rice, it was fantastic. The time before that I had Tournedo of Bison - try finding that in the West End for thirteen quid! It was excellent, just gamey enough and incredibly succulent. I'm afraid that I can't remember the starters - the memory obliterated by the quality of the mains, but I do recall that on the one occasion I was capable of a dessert, it was sublime.
The wine list offers an abundance of well researched plonk with, as you come to expect from this place, the odd hidden gem. There is also a bar menu offering outrageous value for money, but I guarantee the restaurant menu will seduce you. Honestly, for around thirty quid a head, you'll struggle to better it, and I still, after at least two dozen visits, can't put my finger on why Laughing Gravy always makes my day.
Try this... sit outside for half an hour studying the faces of those leaving the restaurant. They will all be smiling. I can do no more than urge you to seek it out and experience it. But, please, don't tell your friends!