No website. No phone line. No booking taken.. but I managed to have heard about The Corner Room less than a week since its quiet launch.
The Corner Room by Nuno Mendes of Michelin-starred Viajante and The Loft Project is a quirky venture where innovative food meets state-of-the-art dining space situated in a tranquil corner on the first floor of Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel.
Cool hotel. And to get to this Corner Room I walked past some awesome corridor, a retro staircase with an illustrated wall, a rugged moose head sticking out of a Persian carpet….
.. and there I stood marvelled at the cascade of shimmering spotlights that adorned the wall of this little room. Glass shelves with many brass and ceramic items. We thought they could do with some taxidermic fox. Retro music. Casual ambiance. No tablecloth. No other diners!!!
I never dreamt such a place in London.
The small menu shouted Viajante without the fuss. A la carte only and tailored for those who find Viajante too pretentious. Expect slightly less innovative dishes – judging from a dish that read “Salmon and Beetroot” – but with more substance. Priciest plate – NOW BEHOLD!!!!!!! – cost £12.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE MAIN COURSE COST £12!!!
It was £6 for any starter, £10-£12 for a main and £4-£4.50 for a dessert. We feared stingy portion and got three starters to share…
Before the meal (all free). Walnut bread (dense, lovely), toasted almonds (amusing my bouche) and marinated olives stuffed with pickled anchovies (gorgeous).
(1) Squid, Jersey Royals & Fennel. Immaculate and beautiful. Springy chunks of perfectly – so damned perfectly!! – cooked squid on a bed of its ink. Crispy medallions of jersey royals, aromatic fennel in many ways, crunchy samphires. Multi textured. Ink and fennel oil well infused to create this sustained explosion of velvety richness.
Finished off the plate and it still looked a work of abstract art!
(2) Asparagus, Egg, Tapioca. Fresh. Shaved asparagus + peas + pea shoots = an ideal spring dish. Near gelatinous confit egg yolk and cheese added sumptousness to the dish. Too much pea-flavoured tapioca for my liking and the texture became a little off. A strong dish, nonetheless. (3) Poached Artichoke, San Jorge & Rocket. This was a ham and cheese salad and the best dish in my opinion (though the other bib thought the Squid). Mild artichoke enhanced by a beautiful tint of light mustard dressing. It could merit from a hint more mustard. Feisty rocket gave life to the delectable San Jorge ham. Brilliant texture contrast. All was priced at £6.
The mains. (1) Salmon & Beetroot. Delicately poached to flake on the temperature of the tongue. Came with creme fraiche (?) and beetroots in many ways. Boiled; thinly sliced and pickled; creamy puree. I had a bite into the tangy pickled one. Tasted Scandinavian. Say, beetroot cured Gravadlax? Very good. (2) Iberica Pork Pluma, Portuguese Bread Pudding. Medium cooked pork. Moist thanks to the extra leftover fat on top (called the pluma). The star of the dish was the portuguese Migas. Crumbled soft bread cooked in (I deducted) herbs, chilli and chorizo oil (or some kind of pork fat). Pungent. Sweet with a hint of heat. Savour-licious. Nice crunch from baby carrots. A lot smaller than the salmon dish, though.
Shame there were only two desserts on the menu. (1) Rhubarb Crumble, Lavender Ice Cream. Deconstructed rhubarb crumble with custard. A bit of poached rhubarb and rhubarb jelly and a bit of crumble. Heavenly lavender ice cream. Cooling aroma. Right balance of flavours. (2) Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Super strong ice cream. A burstful of peanut, really. Also peanut toffee. Choc mousse and a brushing of dark choc. Too much of deconstruction when compared to the other dishes we had. Looked as if a dish from Viajante’s kitchen rather than The Corner Room’s. Great texture, I must add. Would be better if the ice cream had not melted that much when arrived. The appearance made the dish an inferior dessert.
The Corner Room is really “it”. I have not been turned on by London restaurants for a big while and this little place did excite me! Dishes feel more instinctive, comforting and a universe less choreographed than Viajante. No foam; no sorbet; no micro leaf. The price is a real steal. The mystery that shrouds the place – no website, no phone line – raises one’s expectation. Guess what, the Corner Room really does surpass that expectation! You bathe, not in the Mayfair limelight like Pollen Street Social, but in a serenity of sort – an East End kind? – and are served food that sings marvellously for itself. Friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and non-intrusive staff that ensures everything goes right.
That is it. My new “favourite”.
And I shall return.. .. and I hope to see you there, too.
My head rating says, “10 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “10 out of 10″.
THE CORNER ROOM
Town Hall Hotel
Cambridge Heath Road