Consider this as the side project. An epilogue of a visionary concept. A retelling of a story told from another point of view. The breakfast room for hotel guests. Yes, The Corner Room is the child of Nuno Mendes’ Viajante, both nestled within the zen like confines of the uber cool Townhall hotel in uber edgy Bethnal Green on the East end. A spin-off, an overflow room for those who don’t like the idea of advanced reservations at the ultra fantastic temple of modernist gastronomy downstairs.
Perhaps the best part of it all, is how low-key The Corner Room has been kept. There is no weblink or phone and therefore takes no reservations and is totally egalitarian, if you can find it.
You’ll have to go through the main hotel reception, instead of the reception to Viajante to find the easily find The Corner Room. If you take the latter route (which we did), you’ll be taken through the guts of the hotel, maze your way through the immaculate designs and occasionally peek into the beautifully designed rooms as they are being kept. The Townhall hotel is a marvelous hotel. It’s a work of wonder. It’s understated and because of this, it probably makes cooler than staying at say The Renaissance, whose goth granduer is a little bit of a overwhelming monstrosity.
When we did eventually find The Corner Room (unsurprisingly in a corner wing of the first floor) , we were greeted with a distinctly subtle and zen-likeroom. The colour coordination, eye catching and low key was just fabulous, I particular love the large windows, whatever period they are from, as well as the dangling lamps that decorate the wall. The room has character.
Mark and I paid a visit last Saturday for lunch, and were given their weekend brunch menu. There might be a more complete dinner menu, but we didn’t see it.
Taking the low profile approach extends to the purposefully woefully written menu, that easily looks like it was swiped from a greasy spoon, as if to serve as a surprise in an exercise of suppressing the genius that would be served. “House bacon, hash brown & egg” , “avocado on toast” , “smoked salmon & scrambled eggs”.
Salmon & eggs? Far from it, check this out:
Smoked salmon with polenta, avocado & hollandaise, £8.
The smell, the wonderful fragrance of brunch! The salmon, butter, eggs and polenta, all congealing and all an interplay of pillow soft textures, easily glides in to my system. Mmm, there is abit of the cutting edge cooking from downstairs creeping into the recipe here, a dash of avocado cream, a sting of a zesty hollandaise, the custardy poached eggs and paprika infused polenta cake. It’s as beautiful to look as, it was attractive to eat.
Poached eggs with chorizo and paprika potatoes, £8.
The roast filled, relaxant feel of the chorizo and potatoes was morning after breakfast sex for the palate, mmm..
Pork loin & Portuguese bread pudding, £12.
…but this was the one which we both thought was bloody fabulous, prompting my buddy Mark to gesture “This is seriously good food. No fucking around ain’t it, dude.”
The savoury bread pud was from the spring from which comfort food had sprung. Like a rosti soaking with oodles of tomato, peppers and rich umami savouriness. We were both certain the buttery tender pork loins were the result of a master of the dark arts of cooking sous-vide. The original idea of what makes gastronomy the joy it is; an endorphine promoting and necessary part of the day, a celebration of the fact that eating is to refuel life itself.
Mackerel with celeriac & bacon, £6.
The weakest dish of the service, this was flash over substance, and compared to the dishes that came before it, it was easily forgettable. Still for six quid, it was edible art.
Final bill, including a mimosa £7, a glass of bubbles £6 and fresh OJ £2.5 was £55.69 for two.
What I like about the cooking here, is the attention to the cooking. And I say this with all the love for gastronomy from the very depths of my belly : The cooking was very handsome.
Sometimes all that flash and cutting edge modernity can be distracting to an unprepared diner, and if you’re not one to ooh and ahh over the procession, it can be exhaustingly esoteric, thus a little confusing and there is a danger that Viajante’s high end stuff may bore the living daylights off your appetite. But that’s why The Corner Room is special. This unplugged version of Nuno’s mind-bending high end stuff, strikes a perfect chord with the palate, stripping away the noise, and allowing the natural ingredients and the well honed skills of the kitchen to really shine through. This is off the cuff jazz to the disciplined masterpiece of chamber music. And so, this is the alternate interpretation of the travelling chef’s genius. It’s as if the kitchen had laid bare the inner workings of its soul to the public, private nosh turned public, like the way the butcher’s filet became the public’s onglet.
The Corner Room is brilliant. It may even be more fantastic than big brother Viajante downstairs. It certainly is a wonderful brunch venue, and I suspect it will not stay hidden from you guys for very much longer. I love Nuno Mendes’ high end trickery, but I also highly enjoy his low-key flirtation of a stripped down performance.
I fully endorse The Corner room and I suggest you find the time to pay The Corner Room a visit, or perhaps two.
The Gist of It
The Corner Room
Hidden Genius £25pp
No reservations, no phone.
First Floor at The Town Hall Hotel
Patriot Square | E2 9NF
Tube : Bethnal Green
In this coner: Euan Ferguson for TO