James Donnelly seems to always smile in his photographs.
It may not seem even worth pointing out, but in the hyper-competitive, pressure-cooker world of top-level kitchens, so filled with stoic, granite eyed chefs… it’s nice to see someone who just seems to have fun.
Originally from Cambridge, he’s climbed the culinary ladder the old-fashioned way. He got his foot in the door at The River Cafe, worked his way up to being head chef at The Palmerston, and did the same job for Tom Aikens at Tom’s Kitchen.
Then after impressing enough people at enough stages, he opened his own pop up. And after impressing enough people with those (including critic Marina O’Loughlin, who absolutely adored his last one), he’s now opened a longer-term residency at The Bermondsey Street Bar & Kitchen.
Which brings us nicely to the subject of this article: the place itself – perched at the top end of Bermondsey Street – has a strangely appealing functionality to it, with white brick walls sandwiched between a jet-black floor & ceiling, and all filled with rows of simple wooden furniture.
The food is all available as either small or large portions, meaning everything’s potentially a starter or a main, or even a simple tapas-style sharing plate. Those multi-size dishes include the likes of jerk-spiced chicken with pumpkin; roasted plaice with picked mushrooms and red-wine butter sauce; slow-roast pork belly with sour cabbage & apple; and a damson-smoked featherblade of beef with chervil.
For dessert, there’s a salted chocolate tart with port-poached blackberries and whipped vanilla cream; one cloud-like beignets with cinnamon & butterscotch; and a lemon meringue pie cooked-to-order in 15 mins.
Of course, this being a bar and kitchen, there’s a healthy selection of cocktails available (a gin elderflower mint julep, for instance, as well as “all classics”), plus all the beers and wines that you’d hope a Bermondsey Street bar would have.
Which should put a smile on your face.
NOTE: Donnelly’s is open now in the Bermondsey Street Bar & Kitchen. You can find out more and make a booking at their website right HERE.
The Bermondsey Bar & Kitchen | 40 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UD
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