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Typing Room

Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF, United Kingdom

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It is now over three years since Typing Room opened, located in what used to be the Bethnal Green Town Hall. The dining room is on the ground floor and has an open kitchen headed by Lee Westcott, formerly head chef at Tom Aikens so with a solid culinary background. The menu is a fixed five course tasting menu, though they will adjust for culinary preferences and allergies.

The wine list is quite unusual, in general avoiding well-known growers in favour of more fashionable ones, with quite a few natural wines featuring. The wine list had about two hundred references, ranging in price from £28 to £995. Examples were Ancre Estates Triomphe 2013 at £46 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £14, Bow and Arrow Air Guitar 2015 at £65 compared to its retail price of £24, and Chateau Le Puy Marie-Cecile 2013 at £99 for a label that will set you back £36 in a shop. At the prestige end of the list, Didier Dagenau Silex 2012 was £175 compared to its retail price of £110, and there were also three vintages of the lovely Vega Sicilia Unico. Bafflingly, these three different vintages were all priced at £495, yet the 1994 retails at £460, the 1995 at £398 and the 2000 at £337 at the time of writing. If you have the means – go for the 1994, which is a gorgeous wine and only a touch above its shop price.

The meal began with a nibble of crisp cod skin, topped with blobs of salt cod brandade, oyster emulsion and paprika. The skin was suitably crisp and the brandade not overly salty – an unusual and enjoyable start to the meal (16/20)This was followed by pig’s head and trotter meat fried as a croquette with smoked apple puree. This was superb, the pork flavour deep and intense yet balanced by the apple, the texture just right (easily 17/20).

Sourdough bread was made from scratch in the kitchen and had excellent texture (16/20). The next course was Arctic char cured with dill and served with white asparagus, samphire and asparagus jus, finished with a wild garlic veloute. This was light and refreshing, the slight vinegar note of the pickling juices working well with the fish (15/20).

This was followed by a dish that has been on the menu since the beginning: yeasted cauliflower with raisins, capers and mint. This is a fine dish, the texture of the cauliflower excellent, the raisins and capers balancing each other but lifting the flavour of the cauliflower (16/20). 

A fillet of turbot from a 3kg fish came with shallot, onions cooked in whey, pea shoots, shoots of green asparagus and a sauce flavoured with lemon verbena. The fish was accurately cooked and had reasonable flavour, but I was more taken with the peas and asparagus, which were classy and really tasted like summer on a plate (16/20). For the final savoury course, Aylesbury duck was sourced from the Lake District and aged for three weeks in total. The breast was served with carrot puree , pickled chicory and carrot tops with a sauce of the cooking juices. On the side was sausage of duck with carrot ketchup. The bird was excellent, carefully cooked, and the carrots and the vinegar note from the pickling juices were an excellent foil for the richness of the meat (16/20).

Dessert was a deconstructed strawberry, cheesecake with yoghurt, which was pleasant enough though for me not in the league of the savoury courses (14/20). Coffee is now from Ozone in Old Street. It was very good, but so was the previous supplier.

Service was very good, and the bill came to £131 a head, the food part of the bill being £65. If you shared a cheap bottle of wine then you could get away for about £105 a head all in. This was another very good meal here, the standard high throughout. I am baffled as to why Michelin have spurned it when they have been scattering stars aplenty in recent times to considerably less capable restaurants than this.

 

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Further reviews: 09th Aug 2014

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