El Vergel is a lovely little (mostly) Chilean deli and cafe on Southwark Street. A big old space under a new build apartment block, it’s got a half-finished-air, make do and mend fixtures and furniture slightly at odds with the industrial open pipe and wall effect of the shell. Living nearby and having read a recent description on the excellently written and beautifully designed blog Rocket and Squash, it was on my list of places to try. As it turns out, we just happened to walk past one day.
The deli counter at the front hosts entire families of empanadas when we rock up, during the week I’m assuming it’s full of the various salads that make up their lunch menu, fuel for the nearby office workers. There’s also a range of sandwiches, a few tacos (including a range just for breakfast) and a tostada or two.
Stopping off for a caffeine hit on our way through and arriving too late for their ‘special latin breakfast’ (it stops with the parsimony of a seaside B&B at 11am even on weekends), there was obviously only one thing left for me – the aforementioned empanadas. A reasonable £3.50 each, hot and homemade, served with refreshing chilli crackled green salsa. This cuts through the slight fattiness of the pork mince encased in the soft pastry shell. The meat is robust and plentiful, oozing out with intensity, spice and the depth of flavour that comes from a long slow simmer. Will definitely be back for the latin breakfast.
Written by Rich Major (Grumbling Gourmet)