I’m a sucker for central London. When I say sucker, I mean any excuse to venture past zone 3 - I’m on it. When I got wind of Bermondsey Yard Café’s opening last December, I knew I had my next excuse to visit the heart of London. *Fist punches air*
A couple of minutes stroll from London Bridge tube station is Bermondsey Yard Café. Easy to get to and centrally located, I had a feeling I was going to strike up a loving relationship with this joint.
Dark wooden tables and chairs are neatly mapped out across the Yard Cafe's spacious venue, with inviting benches on either side of the room - styled and decked out with comfy cushions, of course. To our surprise, there was a window seat going when we arrived and it gave a glittering view of The Shard. It goes without saying that the bare brick white walls, wooden bar and hanging steel lights contribute to Bermondsey’s undeniable industrial feel. These cold, neutral colours might not be to everyone’s taste, but let me tell you something; when you retire after a hard day at the office, the last thing you want to be faced with are vivid coloured walls or worse, psychedelic wallpaper. I'm not sure about you, but come 6pm my eyes need a rest. The venue's calm and cool interior definitely reflects Bermondsey’s relaxed atmosphere.
Atmosphere & Clientele
The relaxing atmosphere at this SE1 haunt could be described as contagious. The night we visited, everyone was laughing, chatting and smiling. Although there were plenty of suits - it is based near London Bridge - I didn’t feel out of place in my casual wear. It’s the ideal place to unwind, take off your work cap and dive head-first into a few cocktails.
Although the place was crazy busy, the service here was spot on. I can’t emphasise enough what a difference this made to our evening. We had a steady flow of drinks and waited no time at all for our three-courses. The service made the evening; there was no need for that awkward ‘can you come over’ eye contact. Hallelujah.
The Food and Drinks
Scanning the short and sweet cocktail section of the drinks menu, I decided to whet my whistle with the Maple Wood Manhattan (£10). The maple syrup was so prominent I felt like I was sipping the syrupy goodness from an actual maple tree, not my cocktail glass. The flavours were deep, rich and sweet with the smoothness of the rye whiskey making it almost too drinkable. My trusty companion went for the Espresso Martini with Roasted Cacao Vodka (£9) to get that all too necessary caffeine kick.
In the words of R. Kelly, first to arrive ‘hot and fresh out the kitchen’ were two portions of Tonic Squid, Gin Creme Fraiche (£7). The starter was too good to pass up, which resulted in both of us ordering it. It came served with a zesty wedge of lemon and a generous portion of crème fraiche; the added gin perfectly complemented the taste of the squid.
Sticking with a seafood trend, my company ordered the Rope Grown Muscles, Cider, Fennel, Lovage, Cream (£15) for mains, while I edged towards the Alder Smoked Duck, Pickled Rhubarb, Bone Marrow Champ (£16.50). The duck breast came presented on a creamy bed of mash, sprinkled with pickled rhubarb. The skin, as I hoped, was crisp while the meat was cooked medium-rare.
An absolute glutton for dessert, I forced my friend to share the Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding, Calvados Custard (£6) with me. My waist might have frowned upon my calorific choice, but you know what? I regret nothing. I’ve always found Toffee Puddings too rich after a feast, not this time. Including the apple into the mix was a bold but brilliant choice.
Bermondsey Yard Café may only be a few months old, but from our visit, it’s elucidating that it has already made an impression on the public. Take my advice and go for the whole shebang; dinner, drinks, dessert - the lot. It’s worth the extra few pounds.