So I think I may have found another hotspot to add to my London list of favourite eateries.
I had my sister in town visiting, so I was determined to take her somewhere fabulous. But with most hip and happening places in London these days, it’s a “no reservations” policy. And in the case of The Corner Room, there’s also no website or telephone number, so you’ll just have to take my word, that it’s gooooooood.
Housed in the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, The Corner Room is the more laid back, baby sister of the reputable Viajante run by Nuno Mendes; one of the hottest young chefs around.
The space is simple, light and airy, yet stylish in design; with the back wall featuring an eye catching installation of vintage style hanging lamps.
We arrive promptly at 6.30pm on a Tuesday night and only just managed to get a table right away…but when I say “we”, I mean everyone except the guest of honour, so I take the liberty of browsing the small but succinct menu with the view of ordering for the table. Yes…this was my dear sisters’ punishment for (always) being late, and because we had been told that we have a 2 hour turnaround time from arrival…Arrgghhh…the pressure!!
So we basically order all the entrees on the menu. All at £7 each, the highlight for me was the squid with jersey royals and fennel, followed by the mackerel with melon, pistachio and gooseberry granita. Both were seasoned to perfection while the mackerel dish was a creative and innovative combination that (surprisingly) worked very well…
The Iberico pork pluma with Portuguese bread pudding (£12) for mains was pretty special…it came out rare!!
For a brief moment I thought there might have been a mix up with the lamb rump dish (£12) we ordered, but then I recalled ordering a slightly more cooked version of this Iberico pork at José recently, and it was then reconfirmed by our charming waitress that this was in fact how pluma should be served.
Iberico pork pluma comes from black pigs of Spain that wander freely across the medieval ‘dehesa’ oak forests of southwestern Spain. There they gorge themselves on acorns and natural grasses. This diet and all that exercise marbles the meat with beneficial fats, providing an incredibly complex flavour to the pork.
And with every forkful, we were convinced. Soft melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness of rare Iberico pork pluma seems to be the way forward…not that I’d ever be brave enough to make this dish at home though.
Dessert wise (all at £5), the dark chocolate and caramel with peanut butter ice cream was a clear winner…Think of it as a deconstructed Snickers bar. Although I’m not normally the biggest fan of desserts, I’d probably go as far as saying this scraped it into my top 10 of desserts.
The only down side was that by this point, our 2 hours was well and truly up. The bill was already slapped on our table which meant we didn’t get to really savour each mouthful of nutty, caramelly gorgeousness, and had to gobble the whole dish up in about 2 minutes flat…and killed the moment!
Still, the bill didn’t leave a foul taste in our mouths. At £35 a head with a glass of wine each, the Corner Room is a great chance to experience some of Nuno’s culinary delights at very affordable prices.
And with a constantly changing seasonal menu, this is one place I definitely plan to frequent regularly. A restaurant within a hotel, and by no means a hotel restaurant – nobody is putting this baby in the corner…
Did You Know?
According to the chefs’ bible, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, it is perfectly safe to serve good quality pork rare or medium. Historically pork has always been overcooked to combat the dangers of contamination with the roundworm Trichinella Spiralis. This assertion has in recent years, proven to be misleading for several reasons, as discussed here http://tinyurl.com/3tgxp67
Nuno Mendes was awarded a Michelin star just one year after opening Viajante. With an impressive older sibling guiding the way, I have no doubt that The Corner Room will be making a mark on some of London’s most reputable eat lists soon, if not already…Just get there early to nab a table!