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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|
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Viajante is very special indeed.
It is understated – almost subdued but very tasteful and contemporary. The dining experience is friendlier than in almost all other restaurants of this standing in London. It is a place of exchange, discovery and of surprise. It is very difficult to put ones finger on it, but there is an exciting mix of a relaxed setting, much unlike, say a top Paris restaurant and positively extreme seriousness and attention to detail in the cooking. During a meal here everything takes second place to the food. While the wine list is very imaginative and the members of the team have personal relationships with many of the growers of the mostly biodynamic wines and champagnes on offer, the food is unquestionably the star.
As most readers will realise the Spanish name simply means “traveller”. In an unique attempt the different rungs of chefs express their impressions and experiences of foods from around the world in individual dishes using the state-of-the-art culinary techniques which are second to none in the UK and can be found exercised to this level in only very few restaurants in the world right now.
The travel theme is well executed. Do not fear a myriad of different styles, fusions and combinations. Everything is inspired from different parts of the world, usually inspired by the very knowledgeable staff, but successfully brought back home to chef’s highly unique and very subtle, elegant style.
The 6-, 9- and 12- course tasting menus are sometimes served “blind”, so a bit like on a great voyage the diner is asked to surrender some or almost all control to the captain at the helm. The actual menu is then produced over coffee and makes for a neat souvenir of the visit-trip-meal, you get the idea… There are, like on any trip, a few challenges to surmount along the way. Expect new textures and some of the truly avant-garde techniques.
After what can be a very long meal, our conclusion was that one is generally wiser for the experience and there is a refreshing serenity to the often complex dishes: never is there any showing off as so often is the case with cutting edge cooking, always form follows function and Mr Mendes Cooking is very pleasing to the eye too.
This is without doubt the most unique top-class restaurant in the capital and deserves all its recent laurels. It is one of the most interesting and inspiring dining experiences in the UK and would compare favourably with European peers. As long as one is slightly aware of the trip ahead and what to expect it is a great, well, Odysee… I guess.
The clearest thing to say is that one instantly feels like coming back again and again. This has to be a true compliment for any “trip”.