EatFIFA’s 18th outing saw a group of nine visit El Vergel for a Chilean-flavoured Sunday brunch. Stelle de Garcia and Kiko Sanhueza’s venture is located near the bustling markets of Borough and, despite being on the ground level of a new build, has a very homely feel about it.
El Vergel’s menu suggested a lighter touch to the meat-and-carb pile-ups that had characterised our previous five South American adventures. To start, everyone opted for a variety of empanadas – meat, seafood and spinach, accompanied by a fresh, tangy salsa. Mango and blackberry smoothies, whatever their Chilean heritage, were welcome refreshment.
Next up was a round of traditional Chilean steak sandwiches – churrasco palta and churrasco queso. Satisfying as they were, they compared surprisingly unfavourably to our more rugged, homemade Uruguayan equivalents. At least we didn’t have to wash up afterwards. Service was as casual and leisurely as a Sunday late morning deserves but El Vergel, on closer inspection, isn’t a particularly cosy venue to spend a couple of hours chewing the fat. There’s a distinctly no-frills feel to a spacious venue that could offer a great deal more but, nevertheless, this is a snack joint that ticks most of the boxes.
On to the scores:
Food – 58
Drink – 60
Service – 60
Atmosphere – 60
Value for money – 64
Overall – 60.4
A disappointing show for Chile, who find themselves down in 17th place, above only the EatFIFA whipping boys of the Netherlands. El Vergel’s food proved daintier than the likes of Brazil or Ecuador, but the venue lacked their atmosphere. Next up for EatFIFA is our first African installment, the Ivory Coast, which allegedly boasts its only London restaurant in far-flung Catford.