Village East, SE1

Eleanor is a massive fan of brunch and, after having several conversations with friends over the merits of a meal that treats waffles as a staple, she decided to get a gang together last year for the purpose of exploring some of London’s many excellent weekend brunch eateries. We decided to start 2017 by documenting our meetings in the form of reviews, of which this is the first. The inaugural Brunch Club gathering took place on 9th April 2016 at Village East, 171-173 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW. The brunch menu here is pretty strong all round, but we have to admit to booking a table here purely for the waffles.

INITIAL BEVERAGES

LORI: Earl Grey with a slice of lemon.
LOU: a pot of breakfast tea – good flavour but was served with the tiniest portion of milk ever.
ELEANOR: Flat white, perfectly good.
ED: A pot of breakfast tea. Wasn’t bad but not especially memorable.

WHAT WE HAD

LORI: I was indecisive and we’d pretty much agreed that multiple-course brunches are the best thing ever, so I went for soy milk porridge with banana and maple syrup, followed by the campfire breakfast – slow roasted pork shoulder, barbecue baked beans and fried eggs. It was super tasty, but I did wish I could have had the famous waffles.
LOU: I went for a first course of a bacon and avocado sandwich, with chili Jam. I loved the chili jam, but the bacon wasn’t spectacular and the bread was almost stale. I followed up with some of the waffles which were crispy and sweet and served with some of the most delicious vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had.
ELEANOR: I started with a small eggs benedict – just half a muffin with one egg which was great for the two course brunch we had planned. I then had the waffle. OMG. So. Good. They are served with vanilla ice-cream and caramelised bananas and are just wonderful.
ED: I began with an eggs florentine, which was very nice indeed and rather photogenic. This was a rather small portion, but this did not worry me as I was desperate to try to famous waffles. I had the same as Eleanor, with ice cream and caramelised bananas. Delicious and a good sized portion. You could possibly just manage on these alone, but why not have two courses?!

Lori’s campfire breakfast at Village East, SE1 (apologies for the bad photo, but it was very low light!)
Lori’s campfire breakfast at Village East (apologies for the bad photo, but it was very low light!)

WAFFLE SITUATION?

LOU: the choice of Village East was specifically for the waffles – Eleanor and I had both eaten them before, but we wanted to make sure they lived up to the expectation – and they were delish!
ELEANOR: Only sweet waffles and could definitely eat them twice!
ED: As I had missed the waffles previously, I was keen to get in on the action. I was very happy indeed, they exceeded their reputation!

WHAT DID WE CHAT ABOUT?

LORI: Does anyone remember what we chatted about?
LOU: we spoke at length about how Village East’s service at Eleanor’s special 30th birthday brunch was laughable, and got to know each other a bit more
ELEANOR: My birthday. Waffles. Work. I think some chat about Masters.
ED: Waffles. Leslie Knope. I seem to remember talking about Lou’s dungarees and Breton top combo which was and is always a wonderfully chic choice.

Eleanor’s sweet waffles (plus her miniature waffle necklace!) at Village East, SE1
Eleanor’s sweet waffles (plus her miniature waffle necklace!) at Village East, SE1

SERVICE, ATMOSPHERE, TOILET STANDARDS/QUIRKS

LORI: The ambiance of the place was great, but our booth was too snug and the service was painfully slow.
LOU: Village East is busy and bustling – although we had a lovely booth, I found it sometimes hard to hear. The tables were definitely on the small side, but the loos at VE are great – surprisingly spacious.
ELEANOR: VE has a great vibe and lovely decor, however the service was yet again very slow. This didn’t matter too much as it meant we ended up taking 3 hours over brunch. Though 3 coffees did take over half an hour (when Manda joined us) which was a bit long.
ED: It was definitely a wonderful buzzing atmos, which fits in with the whole area. The decor was quite industrial and seem to recall a mixture of murky and incredibly bright lighting. Love a booth, but this was one was a little small. Service was slow and I do recall we had to jog the waiter’s memory about a few things too.

POST-BRUNCH PLANS

LORI: None. Just a super relaxed journey home.
LOU: A very chilled journey back on the Jubilee line
ELEANOR: I had a relaxed journey home before work in the evening running a fun comedy night.
ED: I went off to Tate Modern to have a look at an exhibition about photography which I recall was slightly underwhelming. Something about performing for the camera.

FINAL THOUGHTS

LORI: A pleasant start to a wonderful tradition, but nothing to write home about.
LOU: Whilst I loved the vibe of VE, it was a touch too busy for me, and I think it only fair to warn that service is at best slow, and at worst non-existent.
ELEANOR: To be fair, we mainly went for the waffles and I would go back for the waffles. They are that good.
ED: Take me back for more WAFFLES!

The image of Village East at the top of this post is by Paul Winch-Furness. All other images were snapped by Brunch Club members on their phones, so excuse any blurriness as we were all rather excited about eating the food.

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