Friday, 15 July 2011
The aptly named Corner Room, the latest offering from Michelin starred chef, Nuno Mendes, is tucked away in the Town House Hotel, Bethnal Green. When I finally found it, the staff seemed rather vague and asked for our booking, even though the restaurant doesn't take them (tables are available on a first come, first served basis). Open only just over a month, the idea of Corner Room is to provide a more affordable, more accessible alternative to the hugely successful – and expensive – existing hotel restaurant, Viajante which only offers a set menu for £65, and is booked up for at least the next three months.
The whole experience is intimate – it's like dining in a front room, with only 10 tables or so – and quirky: a flight of stairs leads bizarrely to nowhere. Fellow diners included a man with two babies, a group of Japanese tourists who fiddled with their phones but didn't seem to eat anything and two pretty young locals who were delighted with their food, even letting me taking photos of it.
The food menu is gratifyingly concise, although the drinks menu was frustratingly and strangely focussed solely on wine. My husband, who can't drink wine, did manage to get a beer although he was told that a cocktail was out of the question.
You get much than you bargained for from the descriptions on the menu, which are rather understated. My starter was a wonderfully pleasing combination of intriguing textures: jelly-like, slow cooked eggs with tapioca like meaty caviar, tender baby asparagus and flaky parmesan. My husband's starter of squid, jersey royals and fennel was also excellently executed as were our mains of sea bass with crushed potato and watercress and lamb rump.
A couple of minor criticisms which I think will be ironed out easily in due course: the staff seemed nervous and the food could have been a bit hotter. But, all in all, a highly enjoyable meal and at credit crunching prices too: £6 for a starter, £5 for dessert and £12 for a main is unbelievable value, especially when you are talking about this quality of food.