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Viajante


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#1 Wilfrid

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 04:01 PM

Stone the crows, a fancy restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green Town Hall. If my old mum could only see this.

Anyone been?

#2 Daisy

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Posted 07 July 2010 - 04:12 PM

The chef, Nuno Mendes, participated in one of the Omnivore France dinners in June, at Aldea.
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#3 Gavin

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:40 AM

I've been (know Nuno from his days at Bacchus in Hoxton Mkt). There's a theme here - ambitious restaurants in er, unlikely locations. The refurb of Bethnal Green town hall is a thing of beauty, must have cost squillions, and it is now an upmarket apartment hotel. As to the restaurant, I went during the soft opening and part of the deal was no photos or reviews so no comments from me. Plenty of mainstream reviews have appeared since then and on the whole they are er, mixed.
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#4 Gavin

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:44 AM

Double post.
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#5 LML

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 10:24 AM

QUOTE(Gavin @ Jul 8 2010, 08:44 AM) View Post
Double post.


Mendes is yet another chef who rather thinks that he's something more than a chef.
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Food or frock?

#6 Wilfrid

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 04:19 PM

I just can't imagine what my grandparents would have made of it. Amazing.

#7 Gavin

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 07:07 PM

Nuno has another (very rare) 5* review from Marina O'Loughlin (aka Circeplum) in London's Metro freesheet. Got the first for his 'popup' The Loft Project.
Metro Review
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#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:05 PM

I was warned about Viajante.

The Professional Food Writer I ate next to at Hedone warned me.

Balex warned me.

Balex's girlfriend warned me.

But I just couldn't resist. A fancy restaurant in a fancy hotel in . . . Bethnal Green? And also, we don't get enough of this "modern cuisine" in New York, so I'm always genuinely curious to try it.

The physical plant, housed in what used to be Bethnal Town Hall, is very nice. As you walk in, there's the bar on the right and the restaurant on the left. The bar is pleasant in the extreme. Personable, skilled bartenders. A quirky cocktail list, many of whose occupants work. (I had a few.) Great afro-pop music in the background (at least the night I was there).

The restaurant has two dining rooms, a front room on the open kitchen, and then a back room I guess for those who don't want kitchen exposure. Since I was alone, I asked for a table right by the kitchen. It was interesting to see that, whatever happened, Chef Mendes's hair never went astray.

Chef Nuno Mendes had what the restaurant is honest enough to call a "brief internship" at El Bulli. This leads some writers to call him a follower of Adria, when (just as is the case with Paul Liebrandt in New York) he's really in the tradition of Gagnaire. The food isn't very manipulated; he relies more on strange flavor and texture combinations. You have to be really talented to make this work consistently; I'd say Chef Mendes hit maybe one dish out of three or four.

The restaurant has a set tasting menu every night. Barring allergies or strong aversions, you're given your choice of having six or nine courses -- and that's where your choice ends.

The meal wasn't the total disaster I'd sort of hoped for. Nothing was bad (or at least not horrible). But none of the unorthodox dishes seemed very necessary, either. Nothing craveworthy (or, as the English put it, moreish). (I've managed to lose the menu so I can't get too specific.) It is noteworthy -- and hardly surprising -- that the best and most compelling dish was the simplest and most traditional: a perfectly cooked rare pork tenderloin on a bed of beans (Chef Mendes is Portuguese).

Beverage pairings were fun, but not spectacular. The Wine Girl was extremely nice.

I'm not going to warn you off this place. But I'm not going to tell you to go there, either. It certainly isn't worth what they charge. If you go, be sure to spend a lot of time in the bar beforehand. It'll put you in the right mood to approach the rather overbearing format and overelaborate food.

I'm still trying to figure out who would stay in an expensive hotel in Bethnal Green.
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#9 g.johnson

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:17 PM

Fuck. Me.
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#10 Sneakeater

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:22 PM

Oh. And the website intro is spectacularly retarded.
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#11 g.johnson

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:24 PM

And an absolute must read. Maybe it makes sense in Portuguese.
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#12 Sneakeater

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:00 PM

I forgot about it. That's what really got me excited about eating at this restaurant in the first place, when I was scheduling my London meals a few months ago.

I thought, this is going to be like a MASSIVE FAIL.

I'm almost sorry it wasn't.
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#13 Nancy S.

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 11:04 PM

I have heard better reports of The Corner Room, although the comments of Viajante did make me reluctant to venture a meal there. For me, the most "moreish" places in London have been The Ledbury and Roganic.

#14 nuxvomica

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 11:13 PM

And an absolute must read. Maybe it makes sense in Portuguese.

:lol:
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#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 11:42 PM

Gosh I didn't even know about the Corner Room.

I'd be wary of schlepping out to Bethnal Green without a reservation.

And, I have to tell you, just philosophically, I'd get pissed off at a restaurant that addresses criticism of its predecessor by becoming less "fancy". (Even though I'd probably like the food better.)
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