Award-winning Village East is not in the most salubrious of streets but it certainly offers some tempting cooking, making it well worth the ten-minute walk from the nearest tube. Industrial and quirky in design, it’s divided into various different areas – we sampled the delights of the poshest bit, the dining room. All cream, white and brown, it has a distinctly 50s feel.
The menu is anything but, though. Dishes roam around Europe and America for their inspiration, and there are some wonderfully surprising combinations. Starters (around £5 – £11) include salmon tartar with crème fraiche and a soft-boiled quail’s egg (pretty good), soft shell crabs (2 medium sized crabs looking lovely and crispy for £11.40) and a twice-baked jerusalem artichoke soufflé with toasted hazlenuts (seriously good). Source matters and many ingredients – such as St Maure ash goats cheese (served with truffled honey roasted beetroot & balsamic vinegar, £7.20) reveal their origins.
Main courses show the same interesting variation – herb crusted trout fillet with crab and sweetcorn mash and beetroot dressing (£14.80) sounded great, and the classic fish and chips (£13.50) played with tradition by coming with a pea and mint purée and tartare sauce. The USA and Ireland combine for the West Cork beef burger (£13.90), served with sautéed foie gras, caramelised onions, jumbo gherkin and chips. I wish I’d chosen it – it looked fabulous.
There’s a small but perfectly formed pudding list (all at £6) and the chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream tickled my fancy – but I was good and will save that for the next visit.
The wine list is also interesting, with plenty of wines by the glass (from £3.80) and an impressive selection of bottles. It’s not cheap – bottles start at £19 and you can easily blow £40 – £50 – but if you like your wine you’re sure to find something you will enjoy.
Service is informal and pleasant; if you find yourself in Bermondsey you should definitely give Village East a try.