Corner Room would be the ideal place for a first date if your criteria were: affordable, romantic but not cheesy, and exemplary food. Located in the same Town Hall hotel, Viajante shows off Nuno Mendes’s genius creations into a lengthy list of small plates, often clean, subtle and very complex. A 6 course menu (£65) requires three hours and the 12 course requires four (£90). In most cases, this is too lengthy and expensive for a first date, what if she/he turn out too boring?! Corner Room has almost the same dishes as Viajante but a fifth of the price and you could easily leave in an hour. Remember to impress with pre or post dinner drinks at the stylish Town Hall bar, again at affordable prices.
'No booking and open all day', whenever I hear this policy queues immediate form in my mind. Arriving at the early hours of 6pm on a Saturday, Corner Room was surprisingly empty and only started to fill after 7pm. The deco resembled a modern gastropub with a laid back ambiance and the menu was short with only a dozen of dishes. From 12 to 6pm, there was a deal of £15 for two courses and £19 for three, a bargain by any definition.
Note, all the tables were good apart from the one against the wall with a lamp swinging to her head. See below.
Sea bass ceviche & fennel
Last time I tried ceviche was in Chile because London just doesn’t have a decent peruvian restaurant. However, this was a good effort with heaps of lemon and a lightly smoked sea bass, possibly the best ceviche I’ve tried so far.
Venison in ash with salsify & date
I never thought a sweetened venison could taste so delicious. Each piece was cut to wafer thin and placed on a dot of mildly sweet date puree. The sweetness countered venison’s strong flavour and the typical chewy texture was replaced with a sashimi like freshness.
Cod with clam porridge
I’ve had something very similar from Viajante , both equally delicious. However, it was quite a salty dish, not as balanced as the Iberico pork.
Iberico pork & Portuguese bread pudding
This was the signature dish at Corner Room and it deserved the recognition. The Iberico pork retained its raw colours like it was never cooked, but the crisp edge and the strange but pleasant lamb flavours showed exceptional cooking. I also loved the bread pudding, a distinctive texture of soaked bread but the flavour of a mash potato. Everything on this dish worked, to create a well rounded and full bodied dish like a decent bottle of Rioja.
Penna cotta with apple and hazelnut
I’ve had the same dish at Viajante , similar to a semifreddo (half frozen ice cream) with candied fruits and hazelnut dotted through.
Peanut butter ice cream and chocolate cake
The plating looked like a smashed brownie and with so many elements scattered it was difficult to have a spoonful of everything together. When I did, it was dominated with the dark and rich flavours of chocolate while the peanut ice cream added playful yet creamy touches.
Food (mini Viajante) - in terms of food, there was no difference between Viajante and Corner Room, both use the same ingredients to produce the same dish in the same kitchen. It’s aimed for people who want to try Viajante's dishes without going through three hours of fine dining.
Service (excellent) - I always give restaurants credit when they recommend a wine below my budget rather than up selling like cinema popcorn. You can have any of the wines by bottle or by glass, the latter priced between £5 to £8. The dishes came really fast, good if you want to finish quick.
Cost (affordable) - we took advantage of the £19 three course deal and spent £64 for two people including two glasses of wine priced at £5 and £7 respectively.
I went back to Corner Room on Sep 2012, click here for revisit photos
Town Hall Bar
The Town Hall bar is a must if you dine at the Corner Room or Viajante, never crowded or too pretentious. The menu is full of intriguing cocktails, many with hidden surprises like an entertainment show. We tried a few and Dr.Henderson was the worst, like it was mixed with absinthe and airless coke. I appreciate that Fergus Henderson (chef of St John)’s father invented this as a hangover cure but it was too difficult to drink (top left image of picture below).
Mix of cocktails
This drink kicked off a series of shows that wow the entire bar. Cognac and peach liquor were mixed and lit on fire behind the bar, then poured at the table. All eyes were on the bartender when he showed off his pouring techniques till the fire extinguished and a glass of hot liquor poured back into a berry filled glass. It was the perfect drink for winter, spiced like mulled wine but topped with extra Cognac and still warm to drink.
Town Hall hotel contact Info
8 Patriot Square, London
E2 9NF, 020 7871 0460