Victoria Purcell heads to Vauxhall to check out Pharmacy 2 restaurant. Situated above Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, it’s the coolest Vauxhall opening since the Pleasure Gardens…
A place to see and be seen, in Vauxhall? We had to check it out. Sadly no celeb spots, but Mark Hix, Damien Hirst’s collaborator on the new Pharmacy 2 restaurant, was moseying about.
It’s a little bit clinical with startlingly bright lights, but then I guess a pharmacy-themed restaurant is supposed to be… Situated on the first floor of Hirst’s impressive new Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, the brightness seems to be a continuation of the downstairs gallery, a huge two-floored, high-ceilinged, white-walled space that is the perfect blank canvas for art.
There’s certainly plenty of eye-candy at Pharmacy 2, by which I mean brightly coloured, playful representations of prescription drugs – as bar stools, stitched onto the backs of the banquettes, serialised on the wallpaper, as cute little capsule PH2 logos on the crockery. Then there’s a Hirst Medicine Cabinet installation stretching the length of an entire wall. Above the bar, the word ‘prescription’ invites you to treat any ailments with a good selection of spirits.
I’m still in awe of the sensational buttermilk chicken I had at Hixster Bankside, so I couldn’t wait to sample the menu. We had to ask a few questions about the menu, but the staff know their stuff. I went for the brik a l’oeuf de canard with rose harissa. It’s not a pretty dish, it’s essentially a half-moon pancake, but its soft, duck-egg centre with runny yolk fans out to a crispy filo pastry that’s a wonder of contrasting textures. My friend went for the Hunan spiced pork, celery and ginger broth, which sounds delicate until you reach the large pork patty at the bottom.
For the main course, I had the delicious Swainson House Farm duck curry with apple pakoras, while my friend tried rich, flavourful Launceston lamb pie with a glazed, buttery pastry crust and a bone unashamedly sticking out of the top. She cast aside a few of the suspicious-looking offaly chunks lurking within, however. We added sides of indulgent truffle fries and rape broccoli (pronounced
rah-pay) to try and balance out our heavy, meaty choices, and almost finished our plates. But we found room for a mini pudding each – a bite-sized chunk of comforting custard-soaked bread-and-butter pudding, plus a Willie’s Peruvian Gold chocolate mousse with honeycomb that was gone in 60 seconds.
Pharmacy 2, Newport Street SE11 6AJ; 020 3141 9333; pharmacyrestaurant.com
Three courses for two, £52
A hearty, contemporary feed
What to eat…
The duck curry paired with apple pakoras is a delight
What to know…
Brunch is available from 10.30am-6pm daily