Rather confusingly, I’ve been calling Loyal Tavern (the new Bermondsey restaurant in the old Village East spot) – Loyle Carner to anyone that asks. Nope, they’re not even spelt the same. The latter being a musician who rather confusingly did do a collaboration with Yard Sale Pizza once upon a time and has a song called Ottolenghi. Anyway, Loyal Tavern is nothing to do with Loyle Carner, this one’s from Tom Cenci (former executive chef at Duck & Waffle) and Adam White (Riding House Café). Bet you’re glad we cleared that one up.
It’s a pretty big space which still manages to feel intimate with cosy booths for two and dried plants, ropes and foliage hanging from the ceiling.
The menu is all about championing seasonal British produce, with everything designed to share. We kicked off with a simple little flatbread, slathered with a layer of chicken fat butter from the snacks section before moving onto our favourite dish of the night – the spiced lamb skewers (best order two, they’re only dinky) served with mint and almond aioli which we scooped up with anything we found to hand, to make sure we’d got every last drop. The tartare was made up of rough, chunky pieces of venison, juxtaposed with delicate, petal-like sprout leaves and dainty blobs of miso mayo. Superb.
Personally we found the kid goat and pork belly meatball a little on the rich side, although if you like those fattier cuts of meat, you’ll appreciate this beautifully presented, plump piece of meat which is served in a plum broth really helping to retain its moistness.
From the large plates, we fell in love with a comforting bowl of yolk-orange crab bisque, spiked with refreshing orange, slow-cooked carrots and seaweed. It was so tasty it almost didn’t matter that it came with a piece of gurnard on top. Other fishy dishes of note was the buttermilk-poached cod with ‘nduja on a white bean stew – which managed to be both warming and light at the same time. There were a couple of specials on whilst we were there – the garlicky, chilli-licked charred broccoli being the perfect deliciously oily addition to the fish dishes.
Dessert couldn’t have been simpler – coal-roasted slices of pineapple with a good dollop of salted caramel ice cream. Boom.
Cocktails are well worth checking out too, thanks to Antonio Del Monte (previously The Ned, Soho House Group) who’s come up with a seasonal offer, including punch bowls for groups! Fun! We’d recommend the basil daiquiri as a refreshing aperitif.
Also, we wanted to give a little shout out to our super-friendly waiter! Andy’s got a hazelnut allergy and lately restaurants have been freaked OUT (we’re looking at you Pret & Bryon). Not this guy, he listened, thought about it, reassured us that the dishes we had selected were safe, told us he’d let the kitchen know and that he’d personally keep an eye on everything and that was that. That’s how it should be guys – it’s really not hard. If you’re making the food, you should know what’s going in it. Simples.
Bermondsey, you’ve got yourself a little corker of a restaurant.