Although it's only just up the road from me, I never made it to Viajante which was Nuno Mendes' restaurant located in the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green before he quit in February for Chiltern Firehouse. The space was opened up earlier this year as Typing Room with backing from Jason Atherton and with Lee Westcott as Executive Chef.
The restaurant itself is located in and derives its name from the old Town Hall's typing room. Even with its deep grey green walls, the place feels light and airy and there's a beautiful unfussy simplicity to the venue. After arriving and being relieved of our coats we were shown to our table and offered an aperitif menu. The kitchen is open and from where I was sat I could watch the chefs at work.
In addition to five course and seven course tasting menus (with optional wine pairings), they offer a lunch menu with two choices for each course. As it was only lunch time (had it been dinner, we might have chosen differently), we chose to order from the lunch menu. One thing I was particularly impressed with though was that they have vegetarian and pescetarian tasting menus available on request and so my boyfriend was quickly presented with a pescetarian menu. I know most places will substitute dishes on request but it was nice that those things had been thought of in advance.
Rather than have starters we chose two 'snacks' from a choice of three (I was slightly tempted to order all three but didn't in the end). These tiny little morsels came presented on a fairly large sharing board and when they arrived I did feel like I should have ordered all three to balance the board out a bit. The first were crispy fish skin, smoked cod, oyster and dill. Unbelievably pretty little things, the fish skin was like a thin rice cracker on which blobs of puree sat. This was fishy but well balanced and not overpowering, the textures worked well together.
Normally if I'm having profiteroles they are not especially high class affairs and generally come smothered in chocolate sauce but these savoury courgette and basil profiteroles with black olive savoury versions made for an interesting alternative.
Next up was a bit of a surprise in the form of sourdough bread served with whipped Marmite butter and barley. Now I think my boyfriend and I, despite never having tried Marmite, had put ourselves firmly in the 'hate it' camp. However, we gamely tried it and either the Marmite butter has only the slightest hint of Marmite or we do actually like it. I suspect it's the former but either way, served with wonderfully warm sourdough bread this was delicious and we fought over who got the lion's share.
My boyfriend's main was the roast salt cod, octopus and ratatouille. He was particularly sceptical about the octopus when he read about it on the menu, apparently he was once in Spain or somewhere and somehow ended up with a dish which involved some sort of octopus and said it tasted exactly as you'd imagine it would - a bit like chewing a rubber band, a rubber band with suction cups. This octopus though was a beautiful soft cross-section and my boyfriend loved it. Curled ribbons of courgette lay next to a sort of ratatouille millefeuille. I was allowed a tiny bite of everything and it was light and delicious.
My choice of main was the lamb breast with squash and ginger. Lamb wouldn't usually be my first choice of meat but it just might be if done like this. Although I didn't get a hit of the ginger from the dish, the components came together in a wonderfully rich dish.
We'd opted for different desserts, my boyfriend's choice was the honey, yoghurt and cep. I'm not even sure that I can describe this. For a dessert it was earthy and fresh and natural. Very unusual.
For dessert I ordered the cheese selection which came with homemade chutney and a selection of bread and some crisp breads. Before bringing the cheese board, the waiter asked whether there was anything in particular that I wanted or whether I just wanted a selection. I told him that I liked blue cheese but that otherwise I was just happy with a selection. I can't remember now what each of them were but it was a great selection and reluctant as I was to share, we both tucked into this and loved the homemade chutney.
Following our meal we headed across the corridor to enjoy a post-dinner drink at Peg and Patriot (more on which here).
A two course lunch at the Typing Room comes to £24 and a three course lunch, £29. Tasting menus start from £60. You can make a reservation here. I'd thoroughly recommend you do!