Having spent many meals at the Duck & Waffle, I have known their former executive chef Tom Cenci for a while. When he announced he was leaving a year ago, I knew it would not be long before Tom came back with a vengeance somewhere exciting.
And it could not have been better, as he’s taken position at the helm of the kitchen of a place pretty local to me, which means we’ll be able to visit soon: the Loyal Tavern.
The Loyal Tavern is the revamped Village East in Bermondsey Street and since re-opening a couple of weeks ago, we’ve already visited twice.
It’s dog and child friendly and it has a great menu – what’s not to like?
We booked as soon as the soft opening was announced for a Sunday family breakfast. Arriving at 9.15 is great when you have a toddler, as the place is still relatively quiet.
The interior has not changed much, it’s mostly the furniture that has been revamped. With a dog is possible to use the ‘bar area’ which is in fact a slightly raise mezzanine room to the right of the entrance.
Here there used to be low round tables and sofas, now replaced by high sharing tables and high chairs, perhaps not the ideal with a lively toddler but in our case, we have to fit dog and baby criteria.
The room is bright and spacious and has some vintage elements to it (old sorting drawers) and a bit of a steam punk look which overall makes the ambience feel relaxed and welcomig.
The breakfast menu does really offer a huge choice! We opted for buttemilk pancakes and berries for the little one, in house smoked salmon and scrambled Cotswolds eggs for myself and sausage, bacon, black pudding and egg for the husband.
We also got to share a beautifully indulgent banana toast with caramelised banana and caramel ice cream, courtesy of Tom who welcomed us in person during our visit
We were then invited to visit again, this time for dinner. Of course, I did not hesitate to accept and planned a date night, as I was sure Tom’s cooking would suit my much fussy husband too.
Without the dog or the child, we sat at one of the ‘alcove’ tables by the main bar area; they are comfortable and quite private too, while offering a view to the rest of the dining area and the bar.
There are some tables by the kitchen too, which I presume give a direct experience of the busy pass. Maybe next time!
We started with a glass of wine from the really reasonably and well stocked wine list: a glass of 2017 Primitivo del Salento was a great choice for me at £4.
We shared some snacks, and what snacks! Chicken skin crackling with hot sauce and blue cheese dressing was a delicious opening: crispy but not too crunchy, salty but not overpowering, gently seasoned and with a side kick, this little number has already become a social media sensation.
It was swiftly followed by a British charcuterie board with meats by Cannon & Cannon.
Among the starters, we tried a kid goat & pork belly meatball with plum broth, which – while not the most photogenic dish – was hearty and satisfying. I had also ordered a fresh, beautifully seasoned salad of heritage tomatoes.
My husband opted for the lamb as a main, cooked for once to his very liking (well done, basically) and served in a rich mustard sauce.
I ordered a wintry, comforting bowl of slow cooked pig cheeks, fresh black pudding and suet dumpling. I really liked the dish which I feared would be too rich; it wasn’t, and was perfectly enjoyable (although I prefer my homemade dumpling more sturdy, if there is such a word for dumplings).
We shared one dessert and it had to be the double chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream: gooey, intense, dark chocolate was a perfect end to our meal.
Before we left we went to say hello to chef Tom, busy at the pass. We couldn’t be more pleased that he’s now in the neighbourhood, and we’ll be coming back soon.
We were invited to dinner but not asked to write this review; opinions are my own.