Nestled in a small, bright and tranquil quarter of the Town Hall Hotel and Apartments in Bethnal Green is Corner Room, Nuno Mendes’ bistro-style restaurant. Nuno Mendes is known for Michelin Starred Viajante, famous for its big flavours and experimental techniques, and the Loft Project, a platform for chefs to showcase their cooking in a supper club environment.
The Town Hall Hotel and Apartments, which houses both Corner Room and Viajante was once a real functioning Town Hall and Conference space, but now it’s a boutique, slick and well designed mix of accommodation, gastronomic exploration and spa facilities. Each function gels together with a carefully crafted ambience of glamour and decadence; the polished marble, wooden panelling and a mix of vintage and modern statement art pieces all add to the effect.
Corner room’s interior is equally as pleasing but it’s less showy and more simple and clean, allowing the natural light to fill and warm the space. It’s jazzed up by some wrought iron features, a string of low hung lamps and some beautiful pencil artwork, the latter is on sale. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and welcomes both the public and the lucky hotel guests.
I was invited to sample their new lunch deal which offers two-courses for £15 (I did not pay for my meal). I perused the simple menu as I spread peppered butter onto some freshly baked crusty walnut bread. After ordering a glass of Reserve de Gassac (£5, one size, poured at the table) I savoured the salty flavour of a huge shiny green olive stuffed with fresh anchovies. Already I was enjoying myself and was excited about the meal to come.
For starter I chose squid with romesco, leeks & chorizo crumbs and for main, iberico pork & Portugese bread pudding.
I was blown away by the starters elegance, simplicity and the attention to detail, and the flavours matched in standard. The squid was lightly charred and paired brilliantly with the smokey chorizo crumbs and sweet pepper rich romesco sauce. The thin blackened leek brought in a new texture, though the flavour was lost, and the chunky potatoes didn’t really add much and made the starter a bit over-filling. All in all though it was an incredible start to the meal.
I fell in love with Iberico Pork after my first encounter with it at Jose, Bermondsey, where I first I ate it. I simply couldn’t believe that the meat was pork as it was served so rare. The waitress at Corner room warned me that the dish would be rare and I chuckled, accepting with a ‘bring it on attitude’. The dish arrived and I was thrilled to see it served daringly pink. The pork had a silky, smooth consistency that my knife slid through easily. The flavour was so deep and rich and was complimented greatly by the fabulous bread pudding packed with herbs, chilli and what can only have been some terribly naughty lashing of salty animal fat.
After the huge success of my first two courses, there was no way I was going to turn down pudding, despite being very full. The dark chocolate & peanut butter ice cream was a triumph, an assortment of chocolate toffee treats surrounding a heavenly salty peanut butter ice cream. Plus the serving was huge, and more than enough for two of us to share. A snip at only £5.
The meal I had at Corner Room was just incredible and sweetened more by the generous value of the lunch-time deal. Individually starters were priced between £5-7 and mains £10-£17, but having two-courses on offer for just £15 was unquestionably reasonable.
Without a doubt I’ll heading back to Corner Room to try more of the brilliantly clever and beautifully presented dishes.