Typing Room, Bethnal Green Town Hall

If every chef could work the room like Miguel, the sommelier at the new Typing Room does, then each diners order would go something like this; snacks, starters, mains, maybe a couple more snacks, all the desserts, cheeses and then that favourite dessert again. Just for good measure.

Miguel had us hooked on the Typing Room’s wine list, even though we very rarely saw it. He challenged all of our ‘safe’ choices and gave us new bottles to try and always at the same price point, immediately making the wine a part of our experience.

And the dishes that he was so carefully complimenting? Well they came from Lee Wescott, who’s recently taken over the main restaurant at Bethnal Green Town Hall which for many years was Viajante by Nuno Mendes. Wescott clearly has a thing for presentation. Each dish that came out of his open kitchen was visually stunning and put together with a meticulous precision that celebrated both beautifully contrasting colours and interesting textures. For snacks we shared cumin lavoche (a very thin crispbread) topped with sweet white crab and dots of warm curried emulsion and two pieces of very pretty bread. The first was a mini loaf of herbed brioche, all light, fluffy and sweet, served with chicken skin butter which unfortunately was lacking in flavour. And the second was a dense and flavourful olive bread with smooth whipped butter topped with toasted pearl barley. A much fuller combination that had us fighting over the last piece.

20140707-071839-26319840.jpgFor starters, two rich and charred veal sweetbreads served with crunchy raw peas, fresh asparagus and sweet buttermilk was a wonderful celebration of spring flavours whereas mackerel, passion fruit, burnt cucumber and radish was a little bland with not enough of that tart citrus flavour I was so looking forward to from the fruit coming through. Scorched langoustine, carrot, pistachio and coriander provided some interesting flavour combinations but overall, the dish was overly sweet and and the delicate flavour of langoustine was lost.20140707-071840-26320684.jpgFor mains, we uncharacteristically went for the three meat dishes as the combinations sounded most appealing. First was lamb with a smudge of rich smoked aubergine, sweet wild garlic, yoghurt and caramelised onion. Second was pigeon smoked in pine with salt baked celeriac, lovage and crunchy hazelnuts and finally, suckling pork, with sweet peach, mustard dressing and rainbow chard all topped off with a delicious pickled walnut.20140707-071842-26322370.jpgThe meat in each dish bought the wow factor. Excellent technique was demonstrated in the cooking of all three, especially in the pigeon that was like velvet to cut through and the pork that had perfectly crisp skin and juicy soft meat. But all of us couldn’t help but agree that the sides didn’t add enough flavour and that the cooking methods described in the menu just hadn’t quite been pulled off. Beyond the texture for example, you couldn’t tell that the aubergine had been smoked, that the celeriac had been salt baked. It felt like the menu was overselling what we were getting and our expectations just weren’t met.

As much thought had gone into the presentation of the puddings as it had the starters and mains, and the combinations were altogether interesting and unique . Green Tea with Yoghurt and Sesame was in no way sweet so won points as a pallet cleanser whereas Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate was the complete opposite, an intensely sweet dish that would’ve been too much to finish alone! The clear winner was the rich plate of Chocolate, Amaretto and Almond, thanks to the decedent chocolate mousse and the incredibly moorish chocolate sand.

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20140707-071844-26324119.jpgDespite having a wonderful evening at Typing Room and enjoying the experience, I wanted more from each dish beyond their good looks and so don’t think I’ll be returning too soon.

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