Over the past six months, I have found myself hanging around the SE postcodes in London a lot more than I would have ever anticipated. While this is mostly down to personal reasons, I’ve also noticed an increase in the number of restaurant invites coming from this side of town. There’s no need to say “it’s having a boom time,” as this part of town has always been pretty lively and attracts a lot of foot traffic from locals, weekday workers and tourists alike. It makes sense for restaurants to open doors here, or in the case of this review, for talented chefs to take up residencies. Yes, my latest foodie moment came courtesy of James Donnelly, who is currently whipping up a killer menu at the Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen, located just a stone’s throw from London Bridge Station. On a Saturday morning in April, we found ourselves tucking in, for the first time, to experience brunch, Donnelly’s style. What was delivered to the table certainly didn’t disappoint.
As we were sitting for brunch, and as calories on the weekend don’t really count, we threw caution to the wind and went full in for the indulgent foods. From a seriously decadent scotch egg to a finishing sweet breakfast treat, there wasn’t a bite that one would regret. This is comfort food at its best and that’s exactly what you sign up for when sitting for brunch. You don’t want some light bites. You want a meal that will leave you caressing your tummy with great satisfaction at the end. Eat big or go home, I say. Well, we ate big. We started with the aforementioned scott egg and some truffle mac and cheese. That first dig into the mac and cheese, as the fork dives and retrieves about a half dozen bits of pasta, cemented together by oodles of melted cheese, is monumental. It is difficult to eat this without making a bit of mess, but no one cares. It’s a moment of stringy-cheese-running-down-the-chin indulgence. The starters are devoured. There isn’t a morsel remaining on either plate. And then came the mains.
We both went for the meat-eater’s delight, I with the burger and my guest with the steak, both cooked to perfection and a clear reflection of the chef’s obsession with sourcing only the best local ingredients for his creations. But, if we’re being picky about pointing out the best of the best here, the real winner goes to the dessert, which is in fact a plate one can order as a main on the menu for brunch. This is the french toast. Now, it must be known that I am a bit of a snob when it comes to french toast. That might have something to do with my mother being the master of this dish. It was my favourite growing up and always a sweet treat when it was announced as a weekend breakfast surprise. But, no other dish has ever come close to my mom’s style of french toast, until now. One bite into this eggy bread and I was instantly taken back to Charlotte, North Carolina, as a teenager biting into a Saturday morning family serving of Momma J’s french toast. I could not have had a bigger smile on my face. James Donnelly, you are a master of the kitchen. You serve up a mean burger and put together a terrific truffle mac and cheese. But you, my friend, should win awards for that french toast!
Visit Donnelly’s for more information.
Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen SE1