You're so right, Bermondsey does sound like a rough 'em tough 'em, Cumbrian cheese, but it's also the location for hidden edible embellishments just shy of London Bridge. Invited down to try their range of rustic and thoughtful plates, I let Village East have absolutely all of me.
Village East may be full to the rafters with marred tones, recycled woodwork and rusted metal, but there's an intricacy to the interiors that plays with geometric work and space all the same. While our plot was a leather booth for four, under candlelight and boasting its own space dividing grates, the rest of the venue is a multi-faceted space of alleviated rooms and hidden nooks. A party laid claim over a vintage post office inspired plot by the bar (host to its own selection of office boxes and rusted keys), while couples and friends tucked around the corner made use of kitsch wallpaper, high-back chairs and the view of what will have been a very busy kitchen that night. The venue as a whole feels like a blend of cosmopolitan ideals and cool, sourced corrosion.
The Food and Drink
It's at meals like Village East where you feel bad that more people can't enjoy your job. Spoilt ol' beans with a mountain of food to *endure*, our main dishes comprised of neat, seared scallops with cucumber rolls (£8), baby squid with black as night garlic mayo, roasted chicken breast with sage arancini balls, and Longhorn beef and bone marrow burger (£18). All warming, fresh and seemingly value for money in the enviroment given, the baby squid was a show shiner in batter, and the Longhorn burger was a showcase of how to sensibly source meat. I've only the one qualm; the chicken breast and arancini. The blend of dishes didn't work, and while both rich and hearty in claim, you've two worlds that I felt didn't want to collide, or at least not in a pool of beer braised gravy.
Washing any and everything down with cocktails that night (I chase my water with alcohol), the list at Village East felt curated and sophisticated. While pistachio laced my awe-inspiring Gelato Sour (£8.75) with limonchello and orange syrups, and the brilliantly fierce and power punching bergamot Jamaican Breakfast Brew arrived in its own glass teacup, it doesn't feel like Village East are going for the outlandish or the gaudy for the sake of a tweet or social share; they've clearly muttered over flavours and teased ingredients to get these clear-cut cocktails just right. This is a smaller menu that caters to consideration.
For a Tuesday night in a rather hushed part of town *i'm chewing on straw, as a hay bale rolls by*, Village East could not shut itself down. Definitely more tailored to the suited and booted of London Bridge's hard 9-10ers with regular tailored jackets being thrown across the backs of chairs, Village East had almost every table filled with sounds and the clanking of wine glasses. While the venue itself is neither tight nor enclosed, rather winding and clad in dining spaces, there was an intimacy to Village East that clearly lends itself to the hue of candlelight.
Feeling like a far cry from London thanks to its trinket laced shops (these aren't nanny's trinkets, they hold London's price bracket all the same) and fairy light strewn cubbyholes, Bermondsey Street seems like the perfect place for Village East to set up scrummy shop. Like a high-toned nook away from the London bustle, Village East's warming dishes and humble atmosphere reminded us to get outside of the city's toiled spaces, and find something a little more afield.