A friend booked a table for my birthday meal at “The Laughing Gravy”:https://www.thelaughinggravy.co.uk/. It was ideally located for all of us on Blackfriars Road: a five-minute walk from Waterloo Station for them, and the same from Southwark Underground for us.
Its unusual name attracted the comment ‘Ha Ha Bisto’ from my unfunny partner, whilst I discovered that it was the name of a short 1930 Laurel and Hardy film where they try to keep their pet dog `Laughing Gravy’ unsuccessfully hidden from their landlord.
The restaurant had been chosen as my friend had heard good reviews and according to its website, ‘it’s London’s best kept secret’.
At 12.30pm on a Friday, we were the first diners, although it did busy up a little later. Although there was a small bar at the front, we went straight through to our table set in a lovely light and airy restaurant, due mainly to a large glass panel in the ceiling. It was relatively casual, with wooden tables and simple table setting.
Bearing in mind I knew there’d be lots of catching-up chat, Roy and I had looked at the online “menu”:https://www.thelaughinggravy.co.uk/a-la-carte in advance. When menus were presented, we were told the sea bream was replaced with sea bass, there was no smoked scallop and crayfish Scotch egg and, as the pork belly was still cooking, they were offering a veal chop. None of this bothered me although I was disappointed to find the main course I was looking forward to, three cheese and cauliflower macaroni, was now Casareccia pasta, cheddar pesto, grilled courgette, Innes goat’s cheese and seed crumb. I asked what cheddar pesto was, and the waitress admitted she wasn’t sure as it was a new dish but offered to find out. Bearing in mind this wasn’t going to affect my choice, I was simply curious, I said I’d wait for the surprise.
The six starters, similarly priced between £9 and £9.90, all sounded interesting. Roy opted for the braised lamb sausage roll, pea purée and caramelised pear, whilst I chose chermoula marinated aubergine, borlotti beans, charcoal baba ghanoush and mixed seed crackers. Both were very good and beautifully presented, as was the treacle cured seared tuna chosen by friends.
My pasta dish was divine with the courgette and crumb providing texture. It was also a generous portion and as the cheese was plentiful, it was rich and very nearly, but not quite, defeated me. Roy’s smoked haddock fishcake with buttered cabbage and a Tewkesbury mustard sauce was one of the lighter, and cheaper options at £13.75. Heavier meaty options were priced around £25.
We were all too full for pudding, but I was discretely presented with a chocolate drizzled scoop of ice cream and strawberry, on a plate inscribed ‘happy birthday’.
The “wine list”:https://www.thelaughinggravy.co.uk/ was extensive with wines brigaded by country and starting at £26.50 and running up to £100.
I had hoped that during my visit I’d discover the reason for the restaurant’s catchy name: maybe it was the owner’s favorite film or Laurel and Hardy had some connection with the building. Sadly, I left uninitiated but satiated. It was good to see that a couple of days later, the online menu had been updated so no one else will anticipate macaroni cheese and then be, very slightly, disappointed.