1. The Counter
    Ola O Smit
  2. The Counter
    Ola O Smit
  3. The Counter
    Ola O Smit
  4. The Counter
    Ola O Smit
  5. The Counter
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  6. The Counter
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  7. The Counter
    Ola O Smit
  • Restaurants | Mediterranean
  • price 3 of 4
  • Soho
  • Recommended


The Counter - Soho

4 out of 5 stars

Turkish chef Kemal Demirasal's second London restaurant, serving up Aegean flavours in Soho.

Annie McNamee

Time Out says

You’ve been here before. Almost. 

With a clientele which would be perfect for a Love Island spin-off featuring exclusively people with ‘entrepreneur’ in their bios and a healthy amount of exposed pipework, The Counter is what those in the know would probably call ‘trendy’. Its dim lights, small plate selection, and strategically chipped brick feature wall put it on the verge of parodically hip, but a glance at its menu and a quick chat with any member of its team reveal it to be much more down to Earth than some of its equally Instagrammable peers.

If you close your eyes you can almost feel the Istanbuli breeze flowing through your hair

The sense of deja-vu you feel may not be coming solely from its open-plan bar though. Chef Kemal Demirasal’s first UK venture, opened up two years ago in Notting Hill to much success. Originally from Turkey, he’s taken much of the charm of the original joint (as well as its most popular recipes and excellent cocktails) and transported it to Kingly Street – and combined it with a series of fresh ideas and a lot of seafood.

Fresh is definitely the operative word. The cocktails are infused with real fruit. The tomatoes have been imported from Turkey. There’s sort-of-caviar sprinkled on avocado-topped fish. If you close your eyes and just bite, you can almost feel the Istanbuli breeze flowing through your hair.

A series of enthusiastic staff members recommended a variety of dishes to us. Some, like the tomato salad or prawns, were familiar classics. Others were more interesting. The buttery crab orzo, which was as fragrant as it was indulgent, and the pistachio muhammara, a sort of smokey red-pepper hummus topped with pomegranate seeds and parsley, were particular highlights. 

If the aim is to give Londoners a taste of the Mediterranean, The Counter has hit a bullseye. Or two. Or ten. Perhaps there are too many darts on the board – one can only take so many salty foods before your tongue begins to hurt. The cheese saganaki, a whole wheel of halloumi-adjacent goodness, should've been a showstopper, but its intense saltiness combined with a sweet mango chutney is only for the absolute sweetest of teeth.

After grazing our way through five-ish small plates, regret began to creep in. Not for what we had already eaten, which had been ideal for a sunny Soho evening, but because we, with all the greed of a mediaeval king, had also ordered mains.

Learn from this, dear reader: this food goes further than you expect it to. Don’t be like us, full up and still forcing down a delicious sea bass because you can’t bear to see such a catch go to waste. We did manage to finish dessert, a sage and hazelnut rice pudding that provided a light, aromatic end to the meal and was a serious step up from the Ambrosia stuff.

The Counter is a surprisingly humble Turkish tapas experience, perfect for showing your coolest, knitted maxi-dress wearing friends that you know good places too. 

The vibe Hyper-trendy open-plan dining for attractive millennials or anyone who wishes they were currently on holiday.

The food Satisfying Turkish tapas, though watch out for overly sweet and salty dishes.

The drink Cocktail lovers must try the crisp, slightly sweet yia mas. Infused with fresh strawberries, it’s the liquid equivalent of a bite of fresh fruit on a warm day.

Time Out tip If you’re not ready for the night to end, head down to Under the Counter, the restaurant’s subterranean cocktail bar with DJs playing anything from 70s funk to psychedelic rock. You can check out their upcoming events here.


15 Kingly St
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