Mauro Colagreco and Nuno Mendes at Viajante, Bethnal Green, chef showcase dinner

Menu from a dinner at Viajante where Mauro Colagreco of the two Michelin-starred The Mirazur in Menton, France, joins chef-patron Nuno Mendes (also of Corner Room) to create a tasting menu with matching wines as part of the chef showcase at Townhall Hotel for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2012:


Thai Explosion

Amaranth with sorrel

Langoustine with rosemary and enoki

Potatoes with yeast and Iberico pancetta

Bread and butter

(Nuno Mendes)

Green asparagus salad

Brundlmayer “Kamptaler Terrassen” Grüner Veltliner 2010

(Mauro Colagreco)

Sea tartare

Azlenda Agricola Kante “Bianco” NV, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia

(Mauro Colagreco)

Lobster and chamomile

Josmeyer “Le Kottabe” Riesling 2008, Alsace

(Nuno Mendes)

Cod tripe with onion and potatoes

Au Bon Climat “Wild Boy” Chardonnay 2009, Santa Barbara

(Nuno Mendes)

Smoked bone marrow with beef broth

Louis-Antoine Luyt “Huasa de Trequilemu” Cauquenes 2010

(Nuno Mendes)

Suckling pig

Azienda Agricola COS “Pithos” 2010, Sicily

(Mauro Colagreco)

Apple soup

Fritz Haag “Brauneburger Juffer Sonnenhur” Riesling Spätlese 2009

(Mauro Colagreco)

Jerusalem artichokes, chocolate soil and blood orange

Blanc de Morgex “Chaudelune” 2009, Valle d’Aosta

(Nuno Mendes)

Petit fours

Lunch at Corner Room, a second (re)view

Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF7

Hanging lights along the backwall at The Corner Room

I’ve reminisced an awful lot over the perfection of Nuno Mendes’ lamb since my last visit to Corner Room, not long after it opened. The rump and belly were well seasoned and perfectly seared, creating a salty crust and tenderly medium-rare core. Hunger inducing stuff. And though the desserts weren’t what I’d flock to Corner Room for, in spite of my sweet tooth, this one lamb dish was enough to have me wanting more.

Naturally, an invitation to lunch at Corner Room was not to be declined.

It seems that Corner Room is now offering a two course lunch, any two courses, for £15. Considering that it’s the same menu for lunch and dinner and all the main courses are £10 or over, that’s a pretty good deal. Imagine, not having to queue for food at Corner Room! Admittedly, though, the small print says that some items are subject to a supplement when part of the lunch offer.

Excited about revisiting the lamb, I was disappointed to find that it was no longer an option. The Corner Room, I’ve been told, changes its menu weekly. Not completely but bit by bit. Comparing the menu that sat in front of me and the menu that I had dined from a couple of months back, I spotted the similarities – a couple of the starters and mains were still on the menu but with new and seasonal accompaniments.

It’s the season to indulge in game so potted hare with winter leaves sounded like just the thing to tuck into. While expecting a plate full of winter, what arrived actually had designs on spring. The cress and radish was all ruby, white and moss green on the plate while straw yellow parmesan chips nestled in between. Hiding underneath was the shreds of potted hare with its melt-in-mouth deliciousness.

The Iberico pork and Portuguese bread pudding was much simpler in comparison. Almost rare in the middle, as it should be, the Iberico pork was reminiscent of that tender lamb but with a gentle marbling of fat and added nuttiness. The Portuguese bread pudding was in essence croutons without the crunch. The two, along with baby carrots, came together remarkably well, the way that Mendes’ savoury dishes always do.

In the end, I tried another dessert – I just couldn’t help myself. The blueberries with goats cheese caramel, brioche (more croutons!) and shiso made yet another interesting combination, both on the eye and on the palate. My sweet tooth was lost somewhere between the different colours, flavours, temperatures and textures but I don’t think it was quite satisfied. Thankfully, there were a few other desserts for me to dip my spoon into.


The Long Table by Bootstrap Company/The Loft Project

Puff balls cooking at The Long Table

Despite flying in from New Delhi just hours earlier, I found myself waiting in the hour-long queue for The Long Table last night. The pop up night market is a collaboration between Bootstrap Company and The Loft Project and will be running for another three weeks at Abbot Street in Dalston.

Bootstrap Company organised a series of bar, music and cinema focused events in the East End of London this summer, including the Dalston Roof Park. The Loft Project, the brainchild of Nuno Mendes, is all about the food. So when the two came together, it was really a mini festival.

Based around two tented rows of candle-lit long tables were stalls from the likes of Hawksmoor, Moro, London Fields Brewery and The Loft Project. Great food and drinks were served up while a live band serenaded the guests with polite melody. But after a couple of hours, dressing warm and huddling around sporadic fires were just not enough to stay toasted – it was time to head down to 69 Colebrooke Row for a swift rhubarb gimlet.

Here are a selection of images from last night:

Corner Room, Bethnel Green, Review

Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF

The Corner Room MenuNuno Mendes is not a dessert fan. But for my sweet tooth, it actually turned out to be less of a problem than you’d think.

My friend had a five day interval back in the UK, after four months of being away for work in Dubai, so we arranged to catch up over dinner. Our last meal was a fun (mostly down to the excellent company) but rather disappointing affair at 1 Lombard Street so dinner this time was required to be a step up. I got word via twitter that Nuno Mendes has a new East End venture, The Corner Room, which is not too dissimilar to Viajante. As Viajante has been on my radar for quite some time, although I have yet to try it out, Corner Room seemed like the perfect introduction.

Housed in the same building, but on the other side, as Viajante, it feels like the divide is more than just spatial.

The Corner Room doesn’t get its own fancy website but by way of the blogosphere I have learnt of its existence and its comparable affordability. And also that it doesn’t take reservations.

Around 7.45pm I rocked up to the venue hoping to get a table for 8pm, when I had planned to meet my friend. No such luck – the dining room was full and there was a small group gathered outside hoping to get on the waiting list for tables. “People will be leaving their tables around 8.15pm” we’re told, this seemed like an acceptable wait so I put my name down half expecting my friend to be late anyway. My friend turns up at 8pm on the dot and I am most surprised – people don’t turn up to things on time do they?

We waited in the dreary lobby of the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel as it was almost time for us to sit down for dinner. Or so we believed. The bland old-fashioned wooden panelling did little to inspire conversation so it’s good that we had plenty of ideas of our own. But 8.15pm turned into 8.30pm and then rolled into 9pm when we were eventually seated by a rudely distressing waitress who had been informed by a rather nice managerial character of our loitering presence outside.

Inside, the room harmonises somehow with the décor of the exterior but offers a seemingly brighter and more welcoming presence. The back wall is draped with hanging lights of various heights while the two steam punk style pieces hanging over the middle added even more gentle brightness to the light already yielded by the two full length windows on the side wall. At the front, a spiral staircase lead to nowhere next to the reception counter. It feels like a scene in an East End play, a vintage one.

The waiter assumed that we’d be having starter and main although both my friend and I had eyes for dessert. With a Cornish adventure planned for two days time, I decided to shun most of the fish heavy menu and opted instead for a rather safe lamb rump and belly with baby vegetables, as did my friend but for entirely different reasons.

The portions were small but like the baby vegetables, perfectly formed. The medium rare lamb rump was tender and moist, contrasting sharply with the more solid meat of the belly. A glass of Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve “Le Combal” 2007 made a sweetly rich accompaniment as did, surprisingly, the Touraine Sauvignon “Le Petiot” Domaine Ricard 2010. Indeed the wine list of 12, all available by the glass, is quite extensive given the concise 15 dishes on the menu. Compared with Viajante’s set menu, the choice is welcomed.

For dessert, my friend had the blueberries with goats cheese caramel, brioche and shiso while I was enticed by the vanilla parsnip with frozen milk, tapioca and black olives. Both desserts leaned towards the savoury which was interesting but disconcerting. The blueberry concoction didn’t work for either of us though – the flavours pulled in too many directions and ultimately failed to satisfy the sweet tooth that savoured it. The vanilla parsnip however, did work much better. There’s a sweet, almost caramel experience about the dessert but that’s slightly drawn back by the overpowering taste of the parsnip chunks. How much better and more perfect the dessert would be if honeyed roasted parsnip chips were used instead of the poached chunks.

Several hours after we embarked on this gastronomic experience, we left with wallets only slightly lighter and mildly satisfied. Another savoury course was definitely required to render us content. Meanwhile, the Viajante bar down the corridor provided room for much afterthought.