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Archive for August 23rd, 2009

Caphe House on Bermondsey Street

Caphe House on Bermondsey Street

Last Friday, Jon and I had tickets to see Romeo & Juliet at the Globe (and obviously, Jon was very excited, because what man doesn’t love R&J?). And because the show started at 7:30 pm, the challenge was finding a quick, tasty, nearby place to eat dinner. (Much as I love the South Bank, it’s a bit of a culinary wasteland around the Globe, and Friday nights around the always-packed Borough Market area are a major hassle that I prefer to avoid).

The stars aligned when my friend at work, Val, who lives on Bermondsey Street, told me about the new Vietnamese cafe that opened on her block: Caphe House. Sitting next to me at the office, Val is familiar with my love for banh mi and immediately noticed that Caphe House advertises banh mi in its window. So the plan that formed in my head was to drop by for a sandwich after work and eat it on my walk to the Globe. That Charmaine gave it her stamp of approval in TimeOut a few days after Val shared the news set my plan in stone.

a (half-eaten) pork banh mi from Caphe House

a (half-eaten) pork banh mi from Caphe House

The cafe is small and pretty. In keeping with the neighborhood, it’s simple, but much more upscale than Banzi in Surrey Quays. When I showed up just before closing time at 7 pm, the cafe tables were still filled with Aussies (who appreciate a good Vietnamese cafe, I suspect). I ordered two of the pork banh mi, which were £3.50 each, and the friendly guy making the generous-sized sandwiches explained that Caphe used “special” bread that was extra crispy. [Irony alert.]

Well, as Charmaine wrote in her blurb, the banh mi fillings were great: *tons* of pickled carrots and daikon; superb creamy pate with a strong offal flavor that held its own; good chili kick; and pork slices that still had bits of meaty aspic clinging to them.

But can you guess what was wrong? Indeed, it was the bread. Sure, it was crispy. But it was also *thick*. And there was butter slathered on it. Though the butter must be a nod to this being England, I much prefer a quick swipe of mayo.

Ah well. Good to know banh mi is popping up all over London, and always nice to find a cheap, pleasant place on the South Bank. But call me when the baguette is finally thin *and* crispy.

Oh, and as for the play: I want those three hours of my life back. How anyone could produce a Romeo & Juliet so devoid of chemistry between the title characters is beyond me. At least I had a decent dinner beforehand.

Caphe House, 114 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TX; 020 7403 3574; closest tube station: London Bridge (plus a 15-minute walk)
Caphe House on Urbanspoon

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