Fans of counter dining, you’re in luck because The Counter in Notting Hill is exactly what it says on the tin. Yes, the new(ish) restaurant on Golborne Road, the first London restaurant from Turkish chef and restaurateur Kemal Demirasal, is a contemporary ocakbasi spot, with that all-important open charcoal grill as the central feature. You don’t really get a sense of this from the unassuming exterior, but once inside the eponymous counter is in full view at the back of the room, which is decked out in the style of a Turkish home. Lots of earthy brown tones, chestnut tables, wooden wall panel artworks, vintage Persian rugs and tableware from Kemal’s own ceramics brand YEK Design combine to give the space a traditional, lived-in feel.
The Counter is all about showcasing the food of Anatolia in the south east of Turkey, and as with the interiors, many ingredients have been specially imported, like spices, pepper paste, tahini, molasses and salt. There are also plenty of Turkish bottles on the wine list, including a peachy Misket 2021 from Pendore Vineyards that slipped down a treat.
The menu is filled with classic dishes but there are little twists from Kemal sprinkled throughout: white chocolate, dill oil and rose added a perfume sweetness to babaganoush; hummus came topped with Medjool dates, candied nuts, currants and a vivid slick of paprika oil; a golden egg yolk brought richness to a bean, onion, tomato and parsley salad; and sauteed greens were pimped with fennel, chilli oil, candied walnuts and yoghurt.
You can’t go to an ocakbasi and not have a kebab, so on the staff’s recommendation, I went for the mince lamb kebab, which was well seasoned, expertly grilled, and served with tabla salad and onion salad on a lovely thin lavash bread. The thin-cut chips, which arrived as a huge bowl of matchstick fries, generously salted and laced with aniseed from tarragon (with a fresh tomato sauce and yoghurt on the side) were so moreish that my fork couldn’t stay out of the bowl. A pretty little plate of pistachio and walnut baklava with clotted cream, and a fantastic Diren Mahelp dessert wine, rich with cherry and spice, was all that was needed to finish.
West London peeps, if you’re looking for great Turkish food and excellent Turkish wine, you can count on The Counter.
108 Golborne Rd, London W10 5PS