Last night a friend was exhibiting her artwork at a gallery in Bermondsey, so when we were heading down to the gallery we decided to book a table at Casse-Croute for dinner. With its red and white checkered table cloths this tiny little archetypal 20 seat French bistro is a little neighbourhood gem.
After arriving a little late, we decided to have a quick drink at the table outside, the weather wasn’t too bad and we wanted to decompress a little before enjoying our meal. This however didn’t ingratiate us with the waitress but never-the-less she acquiesced.
Half an hour and two Lillet Blancs later (we really weren’t the ideal dinners), we finally made our way to the table and had a look at the menu, a big black board at the other end of the room. Consisting of 9 items; 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts, the menu was simple and straight forward. The waitress who was a little annoyed at us earlier, and to be completely honest, rightfully so, came by and explained the menu with absolute proficiency. She really knew every detail of every dish.
While I had already had glimpse of the menu when booking the restaurant, I already knew what I wanted to order but was waiting on the remainder of table to decide. Veal sweetbread ravioli for starters and then the lamb shanks for my main. The waitress returned to take our order, but when I asked for they ravioli, she politely informed us that they had run out and that there was only one remaining potato salad with herring starter, however they could offer us another ravioli dish that wasn’t on the menu, a raviole Dauphine.
I was disappointed, I’d been looking forward to the sweetbread raviolis for most of the day. It really wasn’t the restaurant’s fault, had we arrived on time and ordered straight away, like most civilised patrons do, then I would have most likely gotten my ravioli’s. Frustrated, I opted for the alternative ravioli. 3 of us got the Raviole Dauphine and one got the last potato salad.
After a short wait, enjoying the atmospheric vibe of the restaurant, a tapas like dish arrives on a wooden block, filled with little square raviolis covered in what looks like a cream sauce. I’m a sucker for a cream sauce, so I was happy to see that but still a little disappointed I wasn’t getting what I really wanted. That is until I took my first bite.
Cheesy, creamy and a little nutty but somehow light and airy, these raviole dauphine were tiny pockets dairy heaven. Filled with Compte cheese in a slightly cheesy cream sauce, it felt like I actually got the better ravioli, I had forgotten my disappointment, I had forgotten that there were 3 other people at the table, I was completely taken by this absolutely delicious bowl. It actually took me a couple of minute to realise that they had placed a little bread basket on the table, especially considering that after my first bite all I could think of was I need bread to mop up this sauce.
While I could talk about that dish for hours, I will just leave it at this, if I didn’t have a main course coming I would have order another two of those. They were that good. But I did have a main, the lamb shanks with polenta. When it arrived, it looked very simple, a bed of polenta, some greens, a nicely reduced sauce and the glazed lamb shank in the middle.
Cutting into it, it was clear the shank was tender. Was it the most tender lamb shank I’d ever eaten? No, but it was very good and I was very happy to eat every morsel of meat off that bone. Along with that beautiful, shiny reduced red wine sauce and creamy polenta, the lamb really stood out. There was also some spinach on the plate, I’m pretty sure it was spinach, but honestly it didn’t really matter what it was, it faded into the mush of polenta and sauce and tasted good and thats all that really matters.
While I’m not going to tell you it was the best lamb shank I’ve ever had, it is however the lamb shank that I always want. No fuss, but delicious. Two of my friends order the Chicken Two Ways that was on the menu, it definitely looked good and I’m sure it tasted even better because they wouldn’t let even try a bite.
For dessert, we could only order one as we were properly stuffed, we ordered the chocolate crepe. A delicious, somewhat savoury chocolate crepe with a chocolate sauce and milk ice cream. That with a double espresso was the perfect end to a great meal.
The truth about the Cases Croute is that it is a charming little restaurant with excellent food. Would I go all the way to Bermondsey just to eat there, maybe. Because I do live on the other end of town I would probably go somewhere a little closer to home but having said that, it does have its charm and I do get a hungering every now and then for some good rustic bistro food.
Restaurant Contact Information
Address: 109 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XB
Nearest Tube: London Bridge
Tel: 020 7407 2140
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday : 12–10pm
Sunday : 12–4pm