Corner Room is the restaurant getting hotel dining right, as it serves its delicious seasonal menu at Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel.
Bethnal Green’s got even more to offer at the awesome drinking hole The Sun Tavern.
Hotel dining can be a hit and miss business. For every showstopper like Dinner at The Mandarin or Fera at Claridges, there are a whole host of soulless dining rooms and half-hearted concepts just waiting to ensnare a captive audience of travelling businessmen, dead-eyed oligarchs and frazzled tourists.
Happily, Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel sits in a camp all of its own, a charming labyrinth of boutique rooms that also plays host to a pair of stellar restaurants. We were dining at Corner Room, the more relaxed of the two (the ground floor’s Typing Room is a slightly more formal affair), tucked away in a cosy first floor dining room atmospherically lit by a manic clutch of mismatched hanging lamps.
Formerly the province of Nuno Mendes (currently strutting his stuff at Chiltern Firehouse), Corner Room is now home to Head Chef John Christie, an alumnus of gastro mecca and former World’s Best Restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain.
As you’d expect from a chef with such a prestigious credit on his CV, there’s culinary flair to burn here. A standout starter of steak tartare comes lovingly enfolded by fronds of pickled turnip, topped with toasted hazelnuts and accompanied by an egg yolk cream – an excellent twist on the traditional French staple. Meanwhile, a dish of Isle Of White tomatoes allowed the fruit to shine, aided and abetted by creamy burrata, lovage and an ash mayonnaise that was far tastier than its name might suggest.
An immaculately presented main course of mallard fillet served with a black pudding reduction, parsley root and plum was surprisingly subtle, given the robust ingredients, while still packing a hit of autumnal warmth. Roe deer was similarly delicate, and ingeniously paired with grilled baby gem, pear beurre noisette and dandelion – intricate flavours that complimented the meat perfectly.
However, the biggest seasonal treat was lurking amongst the desserts, in the form of a hollowed-out Bramley apple, filled with a mixture of apple puree, salted caramel, anise and candied nuts. A kind of luxury, frozen toffee apple, it’s a must order whenever it crops up on the daily-changing menu.
It should be noted (and was, by our attentive waitress) that while uniformly arriving with picture-perfect presentation, dishes tend to clock in on the smaller side, even among the mains. With that in mind, an additional starter dish might be advisable to share among bigger appetites, although an impeccable bread basket also helps in that regard. A 6-course tasting menu is also available, although the a la carte dishes are downsized still further here,
All in all, there’s a lot to like about The Corner Room, with Christie’s confident menu suggesting he’s well capable of filling the shoes of his illustrious predecessor. A hotel restaurant that doesn’t feel inhibited by the need to please a hotel crowd, it’s an exciting destination in its own right, even if it won’t command quite as many column inches as Snr. Mendes’ latest venture.
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF
For more information visit townhallhotel.com
George Wales is a freelance writer, specialising in food and film. He tweets at @georgewales85