Lunch Hopping at Pharmacy 2 and Brunswick House

| Vauxhall, London

I don’t eat lunch or dinner alone in restaurants, more of a guy thing. Room service, fine. But alone in a restaurant, no thanks.  Until this week. To be totally honest, I had my first course accompanied – with restaurateur Mark Hix at Pharmacy 2  –

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and my second and third courses, very much unaccompanied at Brunswick House. And while I enjoyed Hix’s company a lot, don’t get me wrong, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my own. I could concentrate on the food and flavours, people watch shamelessly, and when that got boring,  read my book. Normally, I’m so busy talking or listening that I slightly overlook the food (choked on a watermelon seed once from laughing mid-chew, the lung specialist suggested I not multi-task).

Back to Vauxhall, a concrete jungle apart from a few notable spots, one being Damien Hirst’s medicinally-themed Pharmacy 2 restaurant which opened last week. Pharmacy 2 adjoins Hirst’s sublime Newport Street Gallery. The casual restaurant, a  collaboration between Hirst and his long-time buddy Hix, is an edible upper, packed with a kaleidoscope of jellybean-colored pill counters, shelves and stools. Happy-time.

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I stumbled upon Hix who was about to blind taste three versions of smoked bacon with a fried egg on top.

Would you like to join?

Let’s be clear, it’s a dish I would normally never order, but when in Rome or Vauxhall …

Good thing, you’re not kosher,

he joked.  Low and behold, it was delicious, especially versions one and two.Three was a bit salty.

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 Mark was totally charming, considering that, like my youngest, smiling comes extra. Mark told me that he ended up in the restaurant business, of which he owns seven,  by fluke.

I left school at 16 and didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I did cookery instead of metal work (the only two options offered). I didn’t do it because I liked cooking. I hated metalwork.

After polishing off bacon and egg number three, I was off to my next course at Brunswick House, an airy, light-filled restaurant that is housed in an old architectural salvage  building where everything is for sale apart from the staff.  I had the most delicious lunch surrounded by chandeliers, gilded mirrors, wooden  elephants, all available for purchase. My lunch companion:

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I feasted on Confit Salsify (a root vegetable), Jerusalem Artichoke, Cavolo Nero and Ogleshied Crisp.

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And when the fancy crisp was removed, le voila…

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Next up, an equally sumptuous dessert of Jellied Rhubarb, Fennel Sorbet (who knew fennel could work as a sorbet?) and Mascarpone.

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It was clearly my lucky day as I bumped into the talented and tattooed chef Andrew Clarke on my way out.

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Vauxhall may not be on Conde Nast Traveller’s bucket list, but these two restaurants are definitely worth a visit.

 

 

 March, 2016