Nothing screams Bermondsey St bobo (bourgeois bohemian) like brunch.
My regular breakfasts consist of organic muesli, natural Greek yoghurt (which I eat to boost Greece’s ailing economy; a Greek yoghurt a day keeps the IMF away) eaten out of a Tupperware container on a crowded train, so I genuinely believe there’s almost nothing as luxurious as brunching.
Village East effortlessly sums up the cool vibe and buzzing energy of Bermondsey St. I took my visiting German friends -who live in a village that has more animals than people- there for brunch on a recent sunny Saturday (I don’t need to print the date, we all remember the only hot weekend we’ve had this summer). The first thing they were blown away by was the waiters that bring you water and top up your glass attentively. This does not happen in Germany; you have to pay for water and no one monitors your intake of it. It was hilarious to watch a German policeman sitting obediently downing glass after glass of water because he thought he had to drink everytime his glass was refilled. But as a watering hole, Village East works in more ways than one.
We tucked into three different kinds of eggs, all of which were delicious. The eggs Florentine (£6.40) was light, yet filling and has just the right egg to spinach ratio (a delicate matter), while the three egg omelette with ham and mushrooms (£7) came out beautifully presented, fresh and was able to sustain the appetite of a German policeman for a good few hours (until our follow-up organic brownies at Borough Market in any case!). My other friend had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on sourdough toast (£6.50) and said it was the best meal she had eaten all weekend, which is high praise from a notoriously breakfast-obsessed German.
Freshly squeezed orange juice and lovely coffee make for ideal morning beverages, but this is a bar review so I should at least touch on the wine list. On a previous evening at Village East I thoroughly enjoyed the Tinpot Hut Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The wine list is extensive with wines from France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Greece, South Africa, America, Spain and Portugal. Village East has also put their own modern twist on some classic cocktails with a sage and pineapple Margarita and a Bermondsey Breeze; it really would be criminal to be a bar in Bermondsey St without stocking elderflower liqueur.
From day to night Village East has a great atmosphere. For brunch it’s laid back and so calm; there is none of that clanging of crockery and excessive milk steaming that you get at a lot of cafes. I’m not sure if it’s always this way, but there were also no prams or crying children, which -note to parents out there- does really improve a dining experience! The Maitre’d greets you warmly but casually at the door, and the servers are polite and attentive but like good waiters they are ghost-like, surreptitiously laying your cutlery and filling your water without being a hovering, annoying presence.
As a space Village East is very hip, with a warm wooden décor and cool stainless steel fittings. Tin chairs are juxtaposed next to leather booths and tables are perfectly spaced for dining so that you’re not crammed next to the people next to you. For people wanting to watch their food being prepared there are tables around the open kitchen also, and there’s a cool lounge area around the bar, which is dimly lit and chilled out for late night drinks.