It took me 3 months to book a table at Viajante, Nuno Mendes Michelin starred restaurant in the Bethnal Green Townhall Hotel, when it first opened up in 2010. I was blown away by the flavours and influences he’d taken from around the world and presented in a beautiful 9 course degustation experience. One year on, he opened up another small gem in another room in the same hotel, The Corner Room. I’ve been wanting to go to The Corner Room since it opened last summer, but as it is a non-booking restaurant taking walk-ins only, and knowing how popular the restaurant would be, I never ventured to the far-off land of Bethnal Green just to be turned away… until last week.
I tried to make use of their set-lunch menu that runs from 12-6pm, but sadly took that little bit too long to get ready and arrived just past 6 o’clock. Not to worry, at least this guaranteed us a table.
The room is relatively small and minimalistic, with high ceilings and a beautiful feature wall of multiple hanging lampshades. A room with warmth, mixing the classical Edwardian features with a modern industrial feel thanks the lighting.
The menu was relatively small, with 6 starters, 7 mains and 4 dessert choices, but with each dish description ever so enticing it was hard to pick. Luckily for me, my food partner in crime F is a sharer, and we are very precise in switching over our plates at the half-way mark. For starters we opted for the seabass ceviche with fennel (£7) and the octopus with smoked potato and hazelnut milk (£8). I am always a lover of ceviche, and Nuno did not disappoint – fresh succulent seabass with crisp fennel and a zingy dressing.
(Apologies for the bad quality of the pictures but they were taken on my phone without the flash, as my friend F cringes whenever my big flash goes off).
The octopus was beautifully char-grilled and succulent with warm chilli oil dressing, it was absolutely delicious and really hard to only have half.
For mains we couldn’t go past the Iberico Pork with Portuguese bread Pudding (£14). This was… by far the best piece of pork I have ever tasted in my life. It had beautiful almost beefy meatiness to it, served rare, almost steak, like but with the sweetness of pork. So beautiful it, that I couldn’t help but make loud mmm noises.
My pick was the cod with clam porridge (£13). The cod was melt in your mouth buttery soft, and the clam porridge which we were told contained oats, was perfectly garlicky and cooked with coriander. I know that many would cringe at the thought of savoury porridge, but this almost tasted like a delicious risotto.
For dessert we opted for leche frita (£5) that came with mango instead of mandarin coulis and the frozen pannacotta with apple and hazelnut. Both desserts were delicious but didn’t quite have the catch your breath deliciousness as the savoury dishes.
The Corner Room is now my favourite restaurant in London, not only are the dishes inventive and of Michelin quality, but it is also ridiculously cheap for the quality of food you get. Also to note, that had I not taken that extra look in the mirror and arrived before 6pm, the lunch menu is an absolute bargain at 2 courses for £15 or 3 courses for £19. I will most definitely be going back very very soon and have been told by many a friends that they’ll be coming with me the next time (if they haven’t already sneaked in by themselves). In terms of worrying about the no-booking policy, I would say that if you arrive as a couple you shouldn’t have to wait very long and if in a group of 4 or more probably aim to get there before 7pm. Also wouldn’t recommend groups bigger than 6 as none of the tables already set up would accommodate so you’d probably have to wait a little while. Not that it’s too much of a problem, as the Townhall Hotel also has a nice little bar opposite Viajante with some delicious innovative cocktails.