South of the Old Smoke’s river is becoming ain’t-no-thing-but-a-chicken-wing trendier by the week. The Tate Modern’s new pyramid Switch House has opened its awe-inspiring 360ᵒ viewing terrace; Canadian apparel brand Kit and Ace’s new boutique resides in Borough Market; and Damien Hirst and Mark Hix’s new venture – Pharmacy 2 (P2) – situated above Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall (NSG), Hirst’s very own gallery exhibiting Damien’s personal collection from the likes of Banksy, Tracey Emin and Picasso. P2 hosts Saturday ‘Summer Lates’ night where the dripping-in-Hirst-decor eatery pumps out club grooves from 10pm until 2am with a DJ on the reins.
Nowadays, you can’t hit the south side of the Millennium Bridge unless you’re sporting a beard, spray-on jeans and a whole menagerie of flaming birds tattooed across the back of your neck.
Super-ish cool, hip and roughly happening kids that we are at TheGayUK – we thought we’d better slip into our skinnies and take a butchers.
Our first artist of call: Jeff Koons, whose work currently dominates the NSG. Obvs a fave of Mr Hirst’s, he owns the whole collection here bar two pieces. A giant Balloon Monkey, oversized mound of rainbow Play-Doh and Inflatable animals intwined in household objects and each other. Just imagine if Willy Wonka didn’t have a sweet tooth.
It was a long-term ambition of Damien’s to own a gallery and share his art wares – entry is free. Don’t miss Made in Heaven in the ‘no photos aloud’ room – see-no-evil emoji monkey.
Appetites dosed up, we sauntered up the Fun-House-esque spiral staircase to the restaurant and were greeted as if we were clutching a Wonka Gold Ticket – a hot-chocolate welcome.
Our waiter diagnosed parched palates and swiftly remedied with an Espresso Martini: Merlet c2 Café and espresso at £9 – and a Temperley Sour: Somerset Cider Brandy 3 years, Somerset Pomona Burrow Hill apple juice, lemon and egg white at £9.50. The martini was rich and aromatic with a firm head – just the medicine. Glüwein spices, ripe apples with zesty undertones made the West Country infused sharpener quite the positive anaesthetic.
If the staff at our local Boots had half the enthusiasm and knowledge as well as following P2’s smart dress sense we’d look forward to lining up for prescriptions.
Our waiter administered direction – we started with Brick à l’oeuf de canard with rose harissa at £6.95 – do you remember when granny couldn’t get the Sunday Yorkshires to rise? A light half-frisby, crispy wafer pastry covering a runny egg – lively peppers and chilli from the harissa was the perfect cardiac-stimulant to complete the simple Tunisian plate. Tasty.
The next starter: Pockstones Estate grouse on Yorkshire toast with bilberries and chanterelles at £12.50. The cure of the night, and one that should be sold over the counter. The tender bird is infused with woody overtones and hints of sweet gamey partridge – fruity aromas from the mushrooms, and bitter but intense currant flavours merge beautifully to make the ideal antidote.
As you would expect from Damo, you’re surrounded by medicine cabinets, Hirst’s butterfly Kaleidoscope paintings and mosaics of pills – this is an adverse drug experience – beats any operating room. Capsule-ating – make an appointment with your GP.
The serum recommend to accompany our mains: Beaujolais “Vieilles Vignes”, Domaine de la Rocaillère, Burgundy, France, 2014 at £30.50. Hints of gusto Noël with savage strawberries and a modest oak bouquet – a sophisticated and well balanced bottle of plonk.
For our mains: Torbay monkfish tail curry with onion bhaji at £16.95, and Peter Hannan’s barbecued sugar-pit rib of beef with Lambridge Farm pea salad at £18.95. The fish was succulent and the aromas were infectious – but lacking in symptoms of India – basic vital signs of flavour. In some cases braised beef can cause nausea and vomiting – quite the contrary here. Hix knows how to cook cow. Once through the syrupy barbecue coating, you’re met with a pink and supple meat – a wholegrain mustard injects tart and completes the dish.
Throughout the evening a steady stream of well attired patients entered the premises – creating a natural buzz – no extra pharmaceuticals needs. Towards the end of our meal the DJ became the central nervous system bestowing a club/bar feel.
‘Summer Lates’ and Jeff Koons exhibition both finish 16th October. We prescribe a good dose of both.
Phone: 0203 141 9333
Pharmacy 2 Restaurant
Every Saturday Newport Street Gallery is open from 10am-10pm (last entry at 9:45pm).
‘Summer Lates’ at Pharmacy 2 will run from 10pm-2am (starting Saturday 30 July) until the close of the Jeff Koons show on 16 October.
Pharmacy 2 is open all-day serving breakfast / brunch, lunch and dinner.