When the news broke that Nuno Mendes; ex El Bulli, Bacchus and of The Loft Supper Club fame was due to open a restaurant at the Town Hall Hotel, I just I had to get a booking. So the flatmates birthday was the perfect excuse to kill two birds with the one stone. One bird being the wallet, but nonetheless…I was excited!!!
VIAJANTE (meaning traveller in Portuguese) is situated in the imposing grandeur of the former Bethnal Green Town Hall, which has recently been converted into the Town Hall Hotel and Apartments.
Designed by award winning architects, the opulence hits you in the face (in an unpretentious way) the moment you enter this stunning Edwardian building. And what a world apart from the colourful streets of Bethnal Green outside this is…
With a choice of 6 courses for £60, 9 courses for £75 or 12 courses for £85, the decision on which option to go for was not dictated by value, but a matter of how much time you had to dine…12 courses taking at least 4.5 hours on a Monday night was sadly not a viable option, so 6 it had to be…
At first glance, there was doubt in my mind as to how this modest sized kitchen could churn out the standard of food that we had all been saving our bellies for that day. But behind this open planned space, we all watched in awe as the team of about 10 staff, each with a very specific role to play, create an individually plated masterpiece.
Like cogs in a well oiled machine, Chef de Painter would use a brush to smear some sauce, another guy would layer the main ingredients, Head de Tweezer man (hopefully not the one used for eyebrows!) would strategically position the edible flora onto the plate, and Sous Piping Bagger would then step forward to inject the puree…every component of the dish meticulously placed to perfection. The remaining staff would then scuffle over quickly to bring these visual delights to our table and explain what we were about to dive into.
So how many people does it take to dish up one plate?! Here at Viajante….about 10 is the answer…and after watching all the effort – I can definitely appreciate why.
Roll out the amuse bouche…
- Crostini de romesco and gordal olive, almonds and Jerez
- Smokey Aubergine with soy milk
- Thai Explosion II
- Squid Tartare and pickled radishes, samphire and frozen squid ink jus
- Spring Garden
- Roasted Celeriac
- Lemon Sole, Brioche, yeast and cauliflower
- Pigs Neck and Prawn, Savoy cabbage, fried capers and grated egg
- Dark Chocolate and hazelnuts, praline powder and blackcurrant gel
- Petit Fours
I can’t really put my finger on what to label the cuisine but Fusion or Nouvelle Cuisine probably sums it up best. For me, the Squid Tartare and Pigs Neck courses were the stand out dishes in taste, innovation and my god – the presentation!! Completely photogenic they were, as I stopped everyone on the table from diving in before I took a happy snap.
Viajante – Definitely recommended, especially with the surprise 25% reduction to our bill, but in hindsight, my only regret was wearing skinny jeans, which prevented me from upping the ante to a 9 or 12 course feast. If anything, it’s a teaser for what the ultimate in Michelin Dining ‘El Bulli’ could have to offer…only closer to home.
And oh…whether you need to powder your nose or not…the beautifully designed lavatories are worth a visit too 🙂
Did you know?!
- Chef Patron Nuno Mendes would have been in the kitchen serving us, had he not have been a guest at the annual S. Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2010. Turns out Danish restaurant, Noma, shot up from No. 3 to overtake El Bulli for the No. 1 spot this year
- All the kitchen staff live in different areas around London and are all given the task of foraging for edible flora in their local areas, which are used in the restaurant to form parts of the meals.