Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Corner Room Bethnal Green review - Viajante's spin-off determined to stay hidden


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Address: Town Hall Hotel
Patriot Square
London E2 9NF
Tel: N/A
Nearest Tube station: Bethnal Green

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below £30pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: *****
Service: ****
Ambience: ****
Interestingly, The Corner Room was one place that I turned up fully expecting not to find it or at least not without great difficulty. At least that was what I thought after reading about it on TimeOut. So you can imagine my disappointment when the staff at Town Hall Hotel promptly pointed me the way to The Corner Room with military precision,"take the lift at the corner to first floor, step out and turn left."

The Corner Room, which doubles up as the breakfast venue for guests at Town Hall Hotel, is rather smallish even compared to Marcus Wareing's Berkeley. But what it lacks in size, it made up in ambiance and service. A winding staircase leading to nowhere stands beside the cashier counter, a disused fireplace on one end with another wall adorned with hanging lamps. The entire room is amply illuminated by two large windows, which I was told is one more than its parent restaurant, Viajante.

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After reading the online reviews, we knew what to order without even looking at the short menu. Even though we have trekked all the way from Angel Islington along Regents Canal, we managed to grab a bite and some drinks at Towpath Cafe and Andor Bureau along the way so we went for the mains right away.

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We felt a bit peckish almost immediately after placing our orders and checked with the waitress whether the croissants were freshly made. "They are all baked barely an hour ago," came a swift reply and it was added to our order. The basket of pain au chocolat and croissant (£2.50) came soon after and that occupied us for a bit while waiting for the mains. We later realised that as the mains' portions are relatively small, the pastries served more as a stomach filler.

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I can't remember when was the last time I had a really good pork dish. Without a distinct flavour like beef or lamb, it can only rely on the gravy or herbs that it is cooked in for taste. My pork and Portuguese bread pudding (£12) would probably set the benchmark for future pork dishes that I come across. Two chunks of tender roasted pork, still pink within, set over soft bread pudding crumbles. I would venture that the essence of the dish lies in the bread pudding, which is infused with herbs and a tinge of salt and chilli. The dish came with some lightly boiled young carrots split right down the middle. It all come together in a nice neat package.

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The lamb rump and belly (£12) came with "true baby vegetables". Lamb invariably goes well with salsa verde and that was no exception. Like the pork, the lamb was still pink in the middle just the way it should be done. If you find your plate keep on tipping to one side when cutting the meat, it is because the plate's base is relatively small. Just do the cutting at the plate's dead centre and you'll do just fine.

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We were told by the staff that The Corner Room is usually quite busy so I guess we were rather fortunate that there was only one other table occupied that afternoon. It must be that everyone else was busking in the glorious summer weather. The good news is that The Corner Room serves food all day from 12pm onwards. However, there seem to be a concerted effort to keep the restaurant under wraps as there is no online presence; it is not even mentioned on the Town Hall Hotel's website. The Corner Room doesn't accept any reservation and I suspect it's because it doesn't even have a phone number that you can call. But one thing's for sure, the food alone is well worth the trip and if need be, queue for it.

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