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|Address:||Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NU|
|Tel:||020 7871 0461|
|Price: £111.00||Wine: £30.00||Champagne: £56.00|
|Opening Hours:||Fri-Sun 12N-2pm Wed-Sun 6-9.30pm|
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
The first thing worth mentioning is that the place looks pretty good. It is definitely a nice change from some of the other, more stuffy places in Mayfair. More modern, cooler, but still very warm and welcoming. Someone has put some thought into the design and the lighting and – this is a first – there even was music. Not too loud, not intrusive, at just the right volume.
We got a table just in front of the open kitchen. Both chairs facing the action, so that you felt like you were sitting in a theatre watching a show. A bit awkward at first, to be honest. But they had asked us if we were comfortable with this table, so we couldn’t really complain.
And once you got used to it, it was actually quite interesting.
It didn’t have anything to do with the scenes you are used to seeing from one of Gordon Ramsay’s shows. No one was cursing, no one was sweating, no one seemed stressed. It all seemed extremely composed and almost choreographed.
At Le Gavroche we had a table close to the kitchen door and heard much more banging pots and plates and order shouting.
Nuno Mendes was working with the team, occasionally making a remark on one of the plates prepared by the other chefs, supervising everything, but also helping with the table service. You got the impression that he’s a really nice guy and that he has a good team working with him.
As for the food, Viajante has no à la carte. For dinner it is either a 6 course or a 12 course tasting menu. The 12 course menu has to be booked in advance. On the evening they offered us the option of a 9 course menu, including two more meat courses and a desert course, but we were happy with the 6 courses and matching wines.
What’s a bit odd though is that you don’t get to see what’s on the menu. It somehow felt a bit pretentious and patronising. I’m not going to ask for any changes to the menu, but I quite like to see it, so that I can look forward to whatever is coming next.
6 courses didn’t sound like much, but there was quite an assortment of different amuse bouches, five in total, and some very nice bread an butter to start with. The potatoes with yeast and black olive were lovely.
The first actual course was rather strange though. Mackerel with lettuce and blackberries. Mackerel again. This time though it was raw. I quite like raw fish, but Mackerel has a very strong, fishy taste even when grilled. Raw and with the skin on, this was a bit much. The six large chunks of Mackerel were sitting on a green sauce, lettuce sauce, I assumed. Next to it some blackberries and a whole load of frozen raspberries. Whenever you got the right amount of each component into your mouth it was kind of OK, but generally just a really weird dish, too fishy, too cold and too much of it.
Good thing that the Riesling that came with it was excellent and helped to wash it down.
The highlight for me was the bread porridge with sweet corn, langoustine and girolles. Nuno’s take on a traditional Portuguese dish, Açorda. This was superb, interesting, different, unusual flavour combinations but at the same time really comforting. The kind of dish you wish would never end.
Excellent was also the cod loin with a stew of tripe, parsley and potatoes or Portuguese fish and chips as the waiter called it. Simply delicious.
A real surprise was the pre-dessert. Pickled and raw cucumber with reduced milk sorbet. Doesn’t sound very appealing, but I thought it was absolutely brilliant. The cucumber came in three different ways, pickled, as a jelly and as a granitá. Great flavours and really refreshing. Who would have thought that cucumber makes for such a good dessert.
Overall the food was very good, interesting, but some of the taste experiments did not quite work for me. The thought of the raw Mackerel with frozen raspberries still makes me shiver a little bit.
The whole experience though was very nice. Excellent, very friendly service, nice ambience, a bit of background music, the view of the kitchen, it all made for a really nice evening.
The bill came to £280, despite having a cocktail to start with and the 6 course menu with beverage pairing (£115 each). Still or sparkling water is included, which I thought is a nice touch, and so were coffee and petit fours.
Would I go again? I think so. But I might just go to the bar, which looked really cool and do the cocktail tasting. 4 cocktails, each matched with a tapa. Sounds pretty good to me.