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|Address:||Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NU|
|Tel:||020 7871 0461|
|Price: £97.00||Wine: £30.00||Champagne: £70.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm 7-11.30pm|
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
It is early days yet, but Nuno Mendes' ‘Viajante’ venture shows promising signs of becoming THE new culinary destination for foodies in London. The quirky bar's decor is a cross between a 60's boarding school interior, with odd retro wooden armchairs and wooden bench-couches with grey upholstery and an airport lounge. It all makes for a very amusing bar experience, the drinks menu is dotted with signature cocktails as well as classic Portuguese ‘Super Bock’ beer and some excellent wines to boot.
Viajante's dining room is quite ‘pretty’, with class-room like wood panels, blue ‘lace-effect’ walls, twee little bowls of spring flowers adorning every table and cherry blossom arrangements dotted around the place. We are literally sat at the best table in the house in front of the ‘open kitchen’. There are 3 menus to choose from… 6, 9 & 12-Course menus. We are told we can see the menu, although they would prefer for us to be surprised. Interesting. We take their advice and place our trust in them and see what comes out.
Amuse Bouches are served in quick succession starting with toasted crostini topped with black olive and romesco sauce, freshly baked mini baguettes with a sublime ‘brown butter’ chicken skin and lardons, ‘Thai Explosion’ of mini sandwiches of toasted bread with chicken skin, filled with shredded confit'd chicken, coconut milk, chillies and coriander – which were absolutely incredible…and lastly ‘Smokey aubergine’ paste, served almost like Baklava between sheets of crisp filo pastry topped with pistachio nuts, accompanying a mini glass filled with a gelee of consomme layered on top of a soya milk gelee.
Our first course is a signature dish of Chef Mendes'… ‘Squid tartare with pickled radishes, samphire & frozen squid ink jus’. The squid ink jus resembles a black granita and is packed with flavour. The raw squid is milky and chewy but in the most unique and moreish way, paired with radishes for crunch, the dish is a triumph as a first course. The next course of ‘Spring garden’ – is literally as you would think it, a melange of spring vegetables, some raw, some given cooked sous-vide style making a very pretty plate of food indeed. Although at this stage, I do wonder if ‘pretty food’ is really going to be the theme for this evening's meal.
A razor clam shell with smoked yoghurt and rosemary dashi is brought over to us by Nuno Mendes himself with the recommendation that “You should really eat this carefully and quickly as the liquid is quite messy” – Who am I to disgree with him? Slighty in awe that Nuno is serving us personally, perhaps it is just a one-off, but no, he then proceeds to serve the next 4 courses to us also.
Roasted celeriac with onion tapioca pearls with Sao Jorge cheese, Skate wing with brioche, yeast and cauliflower followed by pigs neck and prawn served with Savoy cabbage, langoustines, fried capers and grated egg, all expertly served and explained to us by Nuno himself. I'm a very happy bunny indeed at this stage. It is at this point we look at the table next to us and realise Chef Marcus Wareing has arrived with friends to try ‘Viajante’ for himself and of course this ups the ante for Mendes, no doubt.
A lemon powder and Thai basil ice cream is served, followed by dessert… a carrot mousse with both sweet and pickled carrot, buttermilk and a dill granite. This was definitely one of the most special dishes I have ever had. I'm not a big fan of desserts, but I could have eaten that semi-frozen carrot mousse at least 4 times over. The last course is served…'Dark chocolate fondant with hazlenut ice cream, praline powder and a blackcurrant gel, this is the course that although delicious, suddenly sinks to the bottom of my stomach signalling my absolute incapacity to eat any more. I swigged the final mouthful of my delicious ‘Torcolato’ dessert wine, only to be presented with yet another course of ‘Crema Catalana’ – a sherry infused vanilla custard and a plate of petit fours, which included a dark chocolate truffle filled with white chocolate ganache infused with Cepe mushrooms. Hands down one of the most bizarrely delicious chocolates I have ever eaten in my life.
So, after all that, what else is there to say that hasn't already been said? ‘Viajante’ is not your every day type of restaurant. If you had to put it in a category, I would safely say it would be best ranked up there with Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck, as it is a unique and innovative experience, that you may choose to visit again one day, but only for a special occasion. It is more of an ‘experience’ than a run-of-the-mill restaurant and I think that makes Viajante very special indeed. DEFINITELY somewhere that the consummate and most devoted foodies among us should experience before it becomes too trendy, too popular and too impossible to get a reservation at.
6 courses – £60.00
9 courses – £75.00
12 courses – £90.00