LêTrần Cafe in Bermondsey, London
Some friends were down from ‘the north’ and fancied meeting up for lunch. There are lots of lovely places to eat nearby and they fancied Vietnamese – there are a couple within walking distance and this one was chosen.
Located a short walk from Bermondsey tube station and a lovely walk through Southwark Park if you want to get the tube/train from Surrey Quays/Canada Water.
Outside LêTrần Cafe
This is the ‘High Street’ of Bermondsey, although away from Bermondsey Tube it is a busy road with plenty of other shops – Superdrug, Poundland, Iceland, and a Millwall supporting pub – if that is your thing!
Inside LêTrần Cafe
There is certainly a ‘feel/theme’ for this place. When we arrived it was empty, except for us. At 1.30pm on a Saturday you would expect it to have some people in it. I’m usually a bit weary of empty restaurants, let alone at lunchtime at the weekend, but the waitress greeted us with a friendly smile and at no point seemed panicked that her quiet lunchtime had been ruined!
A huge display of Orchids and display lightbulbs hanging over the bar. The lightbulbs were more ‘London Hipster Bar’ than Vietnamese Cafe but if they are happy about it then great! As you came into the cafe there was shrine set up which unless you were looking down you might even miss it.
This is a Vietnamese restaurant but with an ‘Asian’ touch. Usually I find ‘fusion’ restaurants usually fail at all parts, rather than join and complement each other. The menu at LêTrần Cafe is mainly Vietnamese with a few other ‘Asian’ dishes. They have a menu online if you want to see what they offer.
As already outlined, the menu is mainly Vietnamese with some ‘chinese’ type items. We ordered Chicken Satay and vegetarian Summer rolls followed by some vegetarian Pho and crispy shredded chilli beef.
The Chicken Satay is a favourite of mine so I thought I’d try it. Unlike some places, this used proper bits of chicken not just minced up and shaped chicken. The sauce was tasty although a little more oily than I would have liked. I must say that I do prefer MY satay sauce but then again, I would! They did give 4 nice sized satay sticks so that certainly goes in their favour.
The summer rolls were massive! Being vegetarian they contained tufu. The dipping sauce was hoisin and this really complemented the rolls.
The main-courses were amazing. Lets start with the vegetarian Pho. Pho should be served in a massive bowl and here was no exception.
The bowl had a huge amount of noodles under the top level of tofu and veg. This took quite some time to eat and there was enough noodles for me to be able to have some with my crispy shredded chilli beef.
Now. This dish is showing on the online menu but not the menu in the cafe. When the orders were being taken I did ask if they still did the CSCB. Expecting them to say ‘no’ the waitress said she should check and came back to say they would make it for me! Excellent!
The only thing I would say about it is that they put celery in it! The celery looked very much like onion or even white cabbage so I would nyoming it up before I realised it wasn’t the tasty veg I was expecting. Certainly not the cafe’s fault, but it was the only thing I didn’t like about the whole meal. The Chef even came out to make sure we were happy with all our food.
This was lunch for 2, including drinks (We did have Jasmine tea so not very expensive). The total bill was about £33 including tip. We felt it was a good price for what we ate and we could have not had the starters and saved £10-12.
The Reverend’s Final Thought
This was a little gem hidden away in Bermondsey ‘High Street’. It isn’t near the tube station so it is a little out of the way but if you are climbing at the The Arch or visiting some of the micro-breweries nearby then I would certainly make the short walk here.
Although it was empty when we arrived, the place soon filled up and when we left there was only 1 empty table in the place. At no point did we feel hassled by the staff or rushed to leave. I am confident in saying that although this was our first visit to LêTrần Cafe it certainly wont be our last.