Hurriedly travelling anywhere via Waterloo station at 6pm isn’t advisable if you want to be in a good mood, doubly so when wading through torrential rain. Despite this, the storm was left at the door when we entered The Laughing Gravy.
Neatly tucked away just 10 minutes from Waterloo, the skylight flooded the restaurant with natural sunlight and despite the roaring outside, the gentle buzz of post-work chatter and ambient music generated more than enough warm energy to shake the cold off. With plenty coming from work and standing in the bar area, we took the table by the bar’s piano and breathed in the metropolitan atmosphere.
As a wine bar, the exhaustive selection offers fine wines from across the globe and the menu is sorted geographically to appeal to the connoisseurs, but they aren’t the only drinks on offer. For those left daunted by the wine list, The Laughing Gravy does offer local ales, ciders and a range of cocktails from the Old Fashioned to their own take on the Margarita.
The food is prepared by Head Chef Michael Facey, who has over 20 years of experience with top chefs including Masterchef’s John Torode and the level of quality on display shows how well he understands his craft. Arranged delicately and deliberately on the plate, the food looked as good as it tasted.
Among the starter choices were braised lamb faggots with a spattering of pea purée and asparagus in black truffle custard, both of which met the eye’s expectation with strong and rich flavours and a delicate texture that offered a crisp bite. The mains were similarly presented, and between the steamed halibut and the veal chop with wild mushrooms, the portions were generous for its price and were mighty feats in themselves. Although each course complimented the last well, the meats of the main easily eclipsed the relatively sparse starter.
With the sun setting, the guests filling the restaurant and the music getting louder, the quiet after-work atmosphere was traded in by the nightlife, who gave the Laughing Gravy an entirely different energy as we settled in for our final course; a salted caramel mousse and a chocolate and hazelnut delice. Served within a wafer cylinder, the mousse was compactly arranged on the plate but as the chocolate rum ganache spilled onto the plate, the elegance didn’t dissipate.
Ultimately the evening hinged on the smaller details. The lamb faggots’ pea purée, the veal’s mushrooms or the mousse’s Caramac cylinder completed the dishes with elegance and confidence that easily demonstrated the experience of the chef.
The origins of its name remain a mystery to the new owners as it was both the name of a Laurel & Hardy film and slang for prohibition-era hooch and either origin would work appropriately. The feel of the bar has a classic air of a hidden past that could be something out of a black & white movie yet there’s an undeniable feeling of sitting in a secret speakeasy once the sun goes down.
Leaving the bar to a clear sky and a still night, the Laughing Gravy offered a step away from noise of London’s streets and the daily grind to step into another space with some coworkers for a light and pleasing evening that more often than not will leave you with the kind of pleasant feeling you don’t get from a heavy night out or a quiet night in.
What we ate
Braised lamb faggots – £9.50
Asparagus – £8.50
Steamed halibut – £22.50
Veal chop – £24.50
Truffle chips – £4.60
Selvaticas chocolate and hazelnut delice – £8.50
Salted caramel mousse – £8.50
Trebbiano/Garganega, Ponte Pietra, Veneto – £22
The Laughing Gravy; 154 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8EN; 02079981707; email@example.com