The name alone is enough to tempt you in, right? I read somewhere that it was named by its previous owners after the Laurel and Hardy film – who knows. From the outside The Laughing Gravy looks like just another London eaterie but a recent lunch revealed much, much more.
Just down the road from Southwark and Waterloo stations, it’s the perfect spot if you’re anywhere around South Bank in London or, indeed, worth a special trip. I met a friend for lunch and instantly felt at ease in the light, airy restaurant area that has apparently welcomed David Attenborough in the past.
A glimpse at the menu makes it clear that food is a big deal here. Head Chef Michael Facey has worked alongside some of the big names in the food world, including John Torode, Gary Hollihead and Mark Hix and is big on dishes based on seasonal produce, getting some of the Laughing Gravy’s ingredients from a community garden right next door.
My pal and I start with some freshly baked bread as we catch up and struggle to choose our dishes from the tempting selection on offer.
I go for braised lamb and wild garlic infused dumplings, served with a lamb broth. They’re a hybrid of traditional British lamb served in a dim sum-style dish that is as delicate in flavour as it is vibrant in colour. It’s refreshingly light and is spring personified.
Sam’s fish was equally aesthetically beautiful, and another dish that screams seasonality. Asparagus, served with a light, crispy croquette, arranged with the intricacy of a top flight restaurant and adorned with sunshine bright edible flowers. Check out the clever use of crockery to complement different dishes in the best way possible.
For main course, we were both won over by the fish choices. Pan fried cod served with mussels, a pea risotto and a lemony sauce was everything it should be. The fish was perfectly cooked, as was the risotto. Brilliantly seasoned and its fresh, spring taste emphasised by the vibrant, slightly piquant sauce. And again – pretty as a picture.
Salmon served up with wilted spinach and white asparagus was an appealing pile of flavour and taste – just the right balance of delicate and substantial and perfect for a warm spring or summer day.
If the starters and mains had been good, the dessert was on a whole new level. Like, wow! Apple and cinnamon cheesecake was like no cheesecake you’ve seen before, and as precise as any creation I’ve seen in a Michelin-starred restaurant, with something of the Michael O’Hare about its artistic presentation.
But it was my salted caramel mousse that won for me. A filled caramac cylinder topped with chocolate rum ganache with the crunch of shortbread served alongside. Another piece of art on a plate with the added delight of an epic sugar rush – the kind that I find makes me sweat under my eyes. Weird, I know, but my litmus test of a proper sugary sweet dessert.
And there you have it. A gorgeous lunch, both in environment and taste. Maybe this is me being a small town girl being blown away (yet again) by the choice big cities, especially London, offer when it comes to food, but I’m overjoyed that gems like The Laughing Gravy don’t just exist, but are thriving.
For me, it ticks all the boxes in both style and substance. And is a cut above so many of the venues that are serving up similar food and playing it safe. It’s just that little bit different, with a wow factor that would make me hop on the tube and seek it out again. And so should you.
My lunch at The Laughing Gravy was complimentary. I wasn’t asked to write a positive review.
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