Corner Room was originally a second restaurant of Viajante, but when that closed and Nuno Mendes moved to Chiltern Firehouse, the owners appointed head chef John Christie, from September 2014, then Ben Gallier. However from July 2015 there is a new head chef in the form of Richard Wilkins. He had worked as head chef at Flemings in Mayfair, and previously at The Waterside inn, Marianne and the wonderful Maison Pic.
The restaurant in on the first floor of the Town Hall hotel in Bethnal Green, which also houses the excellent Typing Room. The dining room has a display of light fittings on one wall, bare tables and plenty of natural light, at least on this summer’s evening. A tasting menu was £45, as an alternative to the a la carte.
The short wine list started at just £19, with labels such as Massard Terra Alta 2013 at £28 for a bottle that can be found in the high street for £11, and the enjoyable Henschke Tilly’s Vineyard White 2014 at £36 compared to a retail price of £16. Sourdough bread was supplied from the E5 Bakehouse and was very pleasant, with good texture and a pleasing hint of sourness from its acetic acid. It was a pity that the waitress bluffed and claimed that it was made in-house though.
Gin-cured salmon came with gooseberry and cucumber. This was a slightly different approach to salmon but worked well, the fish having enjoyable flavour and the taste of the gin coming through (13/20). Sweetbreads were served with peas and a garnish of pea shoots, the meat having mild flavour and pleasingly silky texture. The peas went well as an accompaniment, the shoots adding another layer of flavour (14/20).
Salt-baked shallots came with raw and roasted mushrooms and walnuts. This was an unusual and successful dish, the shallots having some sweetness and the nuts adding texture (13/20). Poussin came with Jersey Royals, artichokes and beans, the chicken having reasonable flavour and avoiding dryness, the potatoes excellent (14/20).
For dessert, peach slices came in a stiff foam flavoured with prosecco and elderflower. The acidity of the fruit worked nicely with the egg whites, and the elderflower flavour was present without being too strong (13/20). Banana brulee came with peanuts and beurre noisette. I didn't taste this but it was well received by my dining companion. Coffee was pleasant.
Service was friendly, though sufficiently laid back as to be practically horizontal. I have no problem with topping up my own drinks, but the staff should at least remember who ordered what dish, and indeed the name of the head chef. The bill came to £54 a head, sharing one of the better wines. A typical cost per person, sharing a modest bottle, might be around £47. This seemed to me reasonable for what was a very enjoyable meal.