Village East is one of the many young, cool restaurants and bars that have sprung up on Bermondsey Street over the past few years, and the first to feature in one of my restaurant reviews. With its smooth service and sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere, and modern British gastro-pub style menu, it’s a great location for dinner with friends. There were several large parties dining during my visit, and although the tables were quite closely packed together, my dining partner and I didn’t feel at all hemmed in, and the attentiveness of the service didn’t suffer in the slightest.
The wine list at Village East is extensive, with reds, whites and roses from all over the old and new worlds. A good variety of these are available by the glass and by the carafe, and the list provides useful information on grape type to help you choose your tipple. My dining partner and I shared a bottle of the 2010 Bergsig Estate Breedekloof Gewurztraminer, which was deliciously aromatic with hints of peach and floral notes.
On the food front, we were welcomed with a portion of deliciously light, fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, served on a wooden platter with 2 ripe olives at the side. Having tucked in to this appetiser, we decided to forego the starters so that we might save room for dessert, so we moved straight on to the main courses. My dining partner picked the venison shoulder served with pumpkin and sage gnocchi, while I chose the corn-fed chicken breast with wild mushrooms and truffle and pancetta potato cake. The portion was a perfect size, generous enough to be satisfying but not so large as to be overwhelming. The chicken was really tasty and perfectly cooked, so tender that cutting it was almost like slicing through butter. The potato cake was a lovely accompaniment, with strong but simple complementary flavours of woody mushroom, salty pancetta and warming onion.
For dessert, I was torn between several of the delightful sounding dishes on offer, including a warm chocolate fondant, and a plum and vanilla bavarois, but in the end I opted for a fantastically light dish of spiced pineapple with honey and date mascarpone. The pineapple was intensely sweet, but the sweetness was tempered by the delicate spices, including cinnamon and a hint of anise. The honey and date mascarpone was wonderfully smooth, the creaminess providing a delicious contrast with the pineapple. My dining partner was equally delighted with her traditional crème brulée.
Overall, Village East provides a highly enjoyable evening, combining delicious food with a relaxed setting, but at £40 per head for two courses it does feel a touch pricey. Final score? A satisfying four Forks-Up.Village East 171-173 Bermondsey St.
London, SE1 3U T: 020 7357 6082