Village East is based in the foodie haven that is Bermondsey Street; the guy behind it also owns The Garrison on the same street and the very popular Riding House Cafe in Fitzrovia. As it recently underwent an extensive refurb and my parents were down for the day I thought it would be a safe bet for Sunday lunch.
Things got off to a slightly tense start – the woman on the front desk looked stressed and panicked when we arrived which wasn’t helped by the fact that our table wasn’t ready. The inside however was beautiful and had a touch of New York about it with the usual exposed piping and warehouse chic thing going on. There was also a vintage post office theme running throughout – not quite sure why though.
We were seated in a little raised area at the back and we squished against the window – VERY cramped. The 2013 award for Most Uncomfortable Chair goes to…Village East. The metal poles stuck into my thighs making me feel like I was being tortured. Water boarding would have been more relaxing – five minutes in that chair and you’d reveal all your secrets. It was the most cramped and uncomfortable I’ve ever been in a restaurant.
A smallish brunch menu was the only one available which could have done with a few snack or nibble options – or even just a bit of bread. The wait for our food felt epic because we had nothing to munch on!
The roast rib of beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast vegetables, horseradish cream and gravy (£16) was a generous portion. The slice of beef couldn’t have been any thicker and although it looked a little grey it was in fact a wondrous and tender medium rare. The usual problem with a roast was present here though; not enough gravy. The horseradish cream contained more cream than horseradish – there was no heat whatsoever and the potatoes were under seasoned and not at all crispy.
My gentleman companion went for the cheese burger (£12) which was pleasant but not in the Patty&Bun/Meat Liquor league. The smoked cheddar gave off a really strong smokiness which was perhaps a little overpowering but at least the flavour was enjoyable and the beef patty was juicy.
Me and me old muvva shared the roast chicken for two (£25) which was served on a platter. The skin was disappointingly soggy and gelatinous but the chicken itself was superbly moist and totally divine. A little jug of gravy would have gone down well though. The legs had been removed, de-boned and stuffed with stuffing which was a nice touch and made the whole thing really filling.
Because I was feeling in the mood I ordered a side of sausage (£2). I don’t really know how you’d present a sausage attractively but here it looked like a tur…well I’ll leave it there – see for yourself.
The chocolate brownie (£5) wasn’t on the menu but as we saw it going past, the waiter said we could order it. Rich, chocolatey, decadent – it did the job perfectly but the ice cream tasted shop bought.
The salt baked pineapple and mascarpone trifle (£6) looked pretty but offered no other flavour apart from that of the pineapple; it was a bit bland for me.
Village East should be wonderful; it has a wonderful location and it looks wonderful too. But sadly it wasn’t. There was a general feeling of disorganisation and chaos – a lot of staff but no-one seemed in charge which resulted in a thoroughly disappointing lunch. Bermondsey Street ain’t short of good places to eat and I’d be inclined to suggest you spend your money in those places.