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The Counter Soho Opens This May

This May, The Counter Soho – the second London restaurant from celebrated Turkish chef and The Counter Notting Hill founder, Kemal Demirasal – will open on Soho’s Kingly Street, with a new listening and cocktail bar, Under The Counter located beneath it. The restaurant and bar will bring the flavours of the Aegean to Soho, alongside south eastern Anatolian favourites from The Counter Notting Hill.

One of Turkey’s most highly acclaimed chefs, Kemal Demirasal is best known for his avant-garde fine dining restaurant Alancha, which was cited as one of the best restaurants in the Middle East by the World’s 50 Best Discovery Series before its closure in 2021. Self-taught chef Kemal started cooking in 2007, after ending his career as a six-time Turkish national champion windsurfer. 

While The Counter Notting Hill – Kemal’s first restaurant outside of Turkey – showcased traditional south eastern Anatolian cooking styles and an elevated approach to the traditional ocakbasi, The Counter Soho will celebrate the fresh and vibrant cuisine of the countries which surround the Aegean, inspired by Kemal’s childhood growing up in the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast. Famed for its crystal clear waters and bordered by Greece to the west and Turkey to the east, the Aegean is known for its abundant seafood, fragrant herbs, citrus and olive groves. The menu at The Counter Soho will pay homage to the culinary traditions of Kemal’s native Turkey, and to the Aegean regions of Greece, along with subtle inflections from the nearby Mediterranean and Levant regions. The Counter Soho will also bring some of the best-loved dishes from The Counter Notting Hill to the menu, such as the Chocolate babaganoush with dukkah; Levantine lamb tartare; Kibbeh; Vine leaf deconstructed dolma and Adana kebab.  

The menu at The Counter Soho will comprise a selection of hot and cold mezze to share, plus larger grilled and slow cooked dishes, which typify Aegean cuisine. Cold plates will include the likes of: Whipped tarama and fish roe; Tzatziki with pickles and sumac; Muhammara with pistachio and honey; Sea bass crudo and citrus zest with umami sauce; and Istanbul tomato salad and chives. Hot dishes will include the likes of Cheese saganaki with pistachio and honey; Grilled octopus with mashed fava; Saffron and crab orzo; and larger sharing plates of Whole sea bass and Slow roasted lamb shoulder. There will also be regularly changing seafood delicacies and catch of the day specials, including the likes of tender Tuna ‘wagyu’ for two to three people to share, and Hand dived scallops with tarragon oil and monk’s beard. For dessert, the likes of Baklava Cheesecake and Sage-infused rice pudding will be on offer. 

A thoughtfully curated list of predominantly Greek, Turkish and Levantine wines will be available, alongside old world European wines from countries such as Italy, France and Germany, and new world wines from the likes of New Zealand, Western Australia and South America. 

The 60-cover restaurant has been created by award-winning Turkish design company, Mia Architecture and Tuğcu Design. The contemporary and modern space includes subtle nods to the Aegean with a terracotta colour palette, and the use of marble and oak. The restaurant’s bi-folding windows will open up onto Kingly Street, perfect for indoor dining on warmer days. There will also be a 20 seater terrace outside. 

Below The Counter Soho will be Under The Counter – a new listening and cocktail bar. As with the food, cocktails will draw inspiration from Greece, Turkey, the Mediterranean and Levant. Drinks will include the likes of the Silkroad, made with sesame oil Cognac, Amaretto, sugar syrup, and lemon, inspired by the ancient trading route which ran through Turkey, and the Yia Mas, made with rum, osmanthus and yuzu, Maraschino and tonic water, named after the common Greek toasting that means ‘to our health’. There will be a selection of clarified and milk punch cocktails incorporating unusual milks, such as the Artemis, made with lavender vodka, lychee, jasmine milk and yellow chartreuse. Further serves include the likes of the Aegean Paloma made with olive oil fat-washed tequila, chilli, Aperol, grapefruit soda and Peychaud’s bitters, and the Galata, made with Irish whiskey, agave, Safari liqueur and Turkish tobacco bitters. 

The 30-cover downstairs bar, also designed by Mia Architecture and Tuğcu Design, will boast an impressive sound system. This will include a Michell Gyrodec turntable, Michell TecnoArm and Technics 1210 turntable, with Klipsch Cornwall and Klipsch Heresy speakers dotted around the room to elevate the quality and clarity of the vinyl playbacks. An eclectic mix of music genres will rotate on a daily basis, with evenings focusing on the likes of jazz and R&B. There will be a long, rectangular bar in the centre of the room, inviting guests to overlook the bartenders at work.

Kemal Demirasal says of the opening: “We’re really excited to be bringing the flavours of the Aegean, which unites Greece and Turkey, to central London. We couldn’t be happier to be opening our second restaurant in Soho, and to open our first ever bar, Under The Counter, in the heart of London’s vibrant West End.”

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