In Bethnal Green (zone 2), only one stop from Liverpool Street station, the chef Nuno Mendes has built his empire. He has taken over an old town hall, converted it into a hotel with his main restaurant Viajante, and the much smaller Corner Room.
The hotel is magnificant from the outside with the old, authentic decor. This is the entrance to Viajante, the entrance to the hotel and Corner Room is around the corner to your left.
I haven’t eaten at Viajante yet, but I definitely want to, and hearing about the Corner Room, I thought that was a good place to start.
As the name suggest, the smaller restaurant is in one single, small corner room with different industrial lamps hanging from the ceiling and wooden cupboards on the walls. The foos is gorgeous, gourmet food but to very reasonable prices. Or how does starters for around £7, mains around £12 and desserts for £5, sound?!
You cannot book ahead, the restaurant operates a first come, first served policy which works well in such a small restaurant.
I expected the restaurant to be more popular than it was, so we arrived at twenty past six and were the only guests. Half an hour later most tables were full. Once you’ve sat down, the waiter tells you that you have a 90 minute slot, which is a good amount of time considering the waiting staff and kitchen being very efficient. Another nice tough is that you can have as much water as you like (still or sparkling for £1 per person.
As soon as we sat down the rustic bread basket arrived and two olives filles with sardines. I really liked it, but Nick pulled a face as he doesn’t like fish that much. That made it hard for him to chose a starter, as most of them contained fish or seafood.
He settled for the green beans in the end, as there was no fish to that dish on the menu. There was however, on the plate. But Nick is a polite guy and ate it anyway and really liked it, apart from the fish.
I, very fond of everything fish or seafood, opted for the dressed Devon crab with salad and an apple and cucumber jelly. Very tasty, in a demure kind of way.
The maincourse I chose was duck confit with girolles, shredded bread, green beans and a lovely soft egg. My stomach can’t really handle green beans, and I wasn’t aware it came with this dish, but I made an exception and ate it anyway. I suffered a little, but it was worth it. Again, suble flavours that really came together. As I said to Nick: “I don’t want this dish to end”.
Nick – the carnevore – chose skirt steak with a tomato salad and chimichurri served on a slice of bread to soak up the meat juices. He was very pleased and I can confirm it was delicious. More full on flavours than my duck, but that suits a steak better.
Although being quite full I had to try one of the intriguing desserts and went for the goat’s cheese caramel with blueberries, brioche and shiso granita (shiso is an Asian herb, similar to mint, Google tells me).
This was a great supper, which we both enjoyed very much. I will definitely be back! It was also great value for money. Including all the food, 2 glasses of wine and the service charge the bill came to £65. Not bad at all, when eating this well.
Town Hall Hotel & Apartments
London E2 9NF
Tel: 020 7871 0460