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Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square
020 7871 0460
Punters descend on the Town Hall Hotel's bijou and "very hip" Corner Room for two things: to have their picture taken against the now-famous 'light wall' (where a row of mismatched lamps hang artistically from the ceiling), and to try some of the most artfully assembled small plates in the East End. Head chef John Christie is experimental with his use of seasonal produce and the results are always surprising: in one instance, crispy rice and tapioca provide the textured counterpoint to smooth, iron-rich duck heart and salty shellfish mayo (a new twist on surf and turf perhaps). Similar themes are at work in the lamb's neck fillet with swede and mussel emulsion, while pork tenderloin with smoked apple and purple sprouting broccoli is reassuringly traditional and exceptionally well executed. Overall, it's "amazing value for money", especially the three-course lunch (£23).
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Best restaurants in Bethnal Green
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square
020 7871 0460
Cambridge Heath Station 323m
Bethnal Green Tube Station 385m
Genesis Cinema 1km
Victoria Park 1km
Mon-Sun 7-10am 12N-4pm (Sat-Sun -4pm) 6-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Our first visit today, and the approach to the restaurant and indeed the building it sits in- looking rather like a 1950's National Coal Board Office where the staff just upped and left- belie what you're going to get. There are a few surprises-most of them good. The restaurant punches above its weight on food quality and originality. The breads were the best I've eaten in a while. They charge a flat £1 for still or sparkling water – as much as you want; the bottle of wine we enjoyed had more character and sheer enjoyment value than I've had in a restaurant for a little while, and the lunchtime deal is great value at £19/£23 for two or three courses though there are a few supplements. Finally the menu on the internet was the same as the menu we got on arrival- which is both increasingly rare and honest IMO.
Inside the restaurant itself, the atmosphere is a little bare and rustic, though the tables are decently spaced and the display of pendant lights against an end wall adds considerable interest.
The food itself could maybe be described as your favourite tapas bar meets modern european. Lots of ingredients, most of which you can taste clearly . Not swimming in sauces- just a little here and there to add interest, and quality meats served pink (even the pork). Both my starter of cuttlefish with salt-baked potatoes and a little paprika oil, and my main of Iberian pork with bitter leaves and a piquant winter relish, were extremely tasty and thoroughly enjoyable. Presentation is designer-casual. My wife enjoyed her aged pumpkin and aged beef dishes very much too, though her beef wasn't as tender as my pork. The aged thing was possibly appropriate as we could have probably given everyone else in the place 20 years and not missed them. She enjoyed her dessert too.
The less good bits included my rather expensive English cheese plate – a bit dull, served from the fridge as if not many people choose it (and I shan't again) and served with oatcakes -does anyone know anything quite so boring as oatcakes? If i'd had my wits about me I'd have asked for more of the the bread I was so effusive about above. Then there was the fact that they don't have decaf – so we 'd have liked a coffee but had to go elsewhere for it. The service was nicely timed and perfectly polite, but somehow in a casual place like this one you kind of expect a few more smiles. Not at all grumpy, but the place could be a little more welcoming, thats all. The bill came to £93 of which about £10 has down to my mistake with the cheese. Will we go again? I'd be surprised if we didn't . It was good food and it was interesting- a most enjoyable lunch.
My review may be a little biased, this is a warning. The corner room used to be my “no-idea-where-to-book” go to restaurant. You can't book mind you but I was pretty sure we would be seated (or told “sorry, no chance”) within 30 minutes of showing up, which surely, is just perfect for a cocktail or two to pass the time and tease the hunger.
To start with, you'll find the former breakfast room of the Town Hall Hotel on the first floor, round a corner, by the tapestry buck head (it makes sense when you see it). It's not big and it looks like just the pictures you can find on the internet. The service is generally laid back, helpful and friendly.
At my last visit (we arrived just before 10.30pm on a Thursday night) all tables where occupied and they sat us for a drink in the adjacent room. It was dark, woody and leathery, the room not the drink with beautiful vintage furniture (it looked vintage anyway).
When we made it to the table, we were famished and fell onto the delicious bread (from the E5 Bakehouse I believe) and the giant green olives stuffed with anchovies. We asked for some more and munched happily on them as we studied the menu.
As a rule, I found, the food is just great, it looks amazingly fancy and pretty, the portions are deceptively sufficient and it's tasty. Not interesting (ok, that also), not crazy, tasty, which really is what you want.
I found that desserts there are a tad hit and miss. My sweet-potatoes-popcorn -ice-cream-whatever was… well, interesting, crazy and pretty but not particularly tasty.
Still, for the price, it's a very good deal !
Food + drink: 3
After much hype, I found Corner Room somewhat disappointing. The rather austere, brightly lit room desperately needs to be full and buzzing to provide atmosphere, yet sadly only 3 table were occupied, giving the feeling of a schoolhouse dining hall. The service was extremely friendly, albeit not overly attentive, and our waitress delightful – however by own admission she knew nothing of the wines on the very short list (just 5 red/5 white) – all of which were rather leftfield choices and, having tried 3 of them, we were hugely unimpressed. The food I would describe as “good”, but little more; whilst beautifully presented, the “smoked yolk” in the steak tartare totally overpowered all other flavours and although the duck was cooked superbly well, the accompanying risotto was slightly underdone and a trifle bland. In short, I wouldn't rush back: £200 for 4 people (2 courses each; 3 bottles of wine) is by no means ridiculous but aside from the food's presentation, for less than this you can eat similarly well but in a better atmosphere and with a substantially preferable selection of wines in many decent gastropubs.
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