After its reopening in September, I went to check out the newly refurbished Village East (171-173 Bermondsey Street), a modern European brasserie with New York loft-style exposed brickwork in the heart of Bermondsey Street.
I hadn’t been there before the reopening, but judging by the timelapse slideshow on the website, it’s had a pretty major overhaul and they’ve added some nice rustic touches, like the faux-weathered hand dryers.
On my first visit, a mid-week dinnertime, I wanted something healthy but filling, so I went for the grilled stone bass with Waldorf salad (£18), which the lovely American waitress assured me was a huge portion.
The fish dish was absolutely delicious with just the right mix of textures, but unfortunately the size didn’t really meet expectations for this hungry girl – not for that price, anyway.
My guest’s main course, on the other hand, was more than enough to feed a hungry pregnant lady, and I found myself with major food envy as I eyed up the Confit turkey leg (£16) that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Fred Flintstone’s mitts.
(Fortunately, hungry pregnant ladies can’t necessarily eat as much as hungry non-pregnant ladies, so she let me finish it. It was sensational).
We shared the decent-sized portion of caramelised onion bread with yoghurt and dill butter (£2.80), which was really good but could have been more oniony.
My second visit was for Saturday brunch. The Village Breakfast (two eggs, a free-range pork sausage, streaky bacon, field mushroom, slow-roast tomato and toast, £10.50) was good – the sausage was juicy and really tasty – but the experience was slightly dampened by watching my own plate sit on the side for several minutes in the not-particularly-busy restaurant before a waitress finally brought it over. The poached eggs were luke-warm as a result.
I was also a bit disappointed by my smoothie, which was supposed to contain banana and maple syrup but tasted fairly bland and wasn’t a patch on a Leon smoothie.
There were no complaints from my friend about her eggs florentine (£9), which came with Hollandaise on the side, as requested. The Shoreditch-blend coffee was great.
We didn’t quite have room for dessert, which was a shame because the brunch pudding menu is amazing: Banana, rum and ginger cake (£2.50)? Buttermilk pancakes (£7)? Blueberry cheesecake sunday (£7)? Next time I think I’ll go along just for the cake.
A week later, I went back for Saturday-night dinner and this time ordered the Chateaubriand for two (with baked onion, confit tomato, watercress, field mushroom, garlic butter, beef gravy, bearnaise or peppercorn sauce, £48 for two).
Apart from being a tiny bit on the luke-warm side (probably because it was sliced before it got to our table), the beef was juicy and tasty. The accompaniments weren’t overly generous – we had to slice the field mushroom in half to share it – but the whole course was just about enough.
The cocktails – we had the Orient Express (£8) and the Forager’s Sour (£8.50) were reasonably priced but nothing special. There’s also a decently priced and fairly extensive wine menu with a great selection of reds. We just about had room for pudding but decided against it as there was nothing overly tempting.
I really wanted to love this place, and in many ways I do love the interior, the menu and the fabulously cheery American waitress, but the food just wasn’t as good as I’d expected. I’ll definitely go back and give it another try though.