Typing Room

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

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Typing Room opened in April 2014 in the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, in the rather grand building that used to be the real town hall. It is in the space vacated by Viajante, and now taken over by Jason Atherton, Nuno Mendes having moved on to Chiltern Fire House. The head chef here is Lee Westcott, who was head chef at Tom Aikens before heading up 22 Ships in Hong Kong prior to moving back to London.

Snacks are priced at £5, starters £10 to £15, mains £19 to £26, desserts £9. A seven course tasting menu was £70. The wine list was interesting, having plenty of unusual selections (such as a label from Japan) as well as the more familiar choices from better-known regions. With a little over 100 choices by the bottle, it ranged in price from £27 to £350. Cuvee des Conti Chateau Tour des Gendres 2012 was £37 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £13, Henri Bourgeouis Clos Henri Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2012 was £42 for a wine that retails at £16, Il Glicine Sandro Fey Valtellina Sassella 2010 was £69 for a wine that will set you back about £26 and Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2006 was £125 compared to a shop price of £46. We drank Pintia 2006, which was very good though quite pricy at £90 for a wine that costs about £39 retail. 

The simple room has understated décor, with a wooden floor, an open kitchen and genuinely comfortable chairs. Waiters were dressed casually, in jeans, brown brogues and blue shirts. The room, on a fairly busy night had a peak noise level of around 75 decibels, so buzzy but not deafening (on the logarithmic decibel scale, 60 decibels is normal conversation, 90 decibels is the noise a lawnmower makes).

Smoked eel with wasabi and peas was served in a lettuce leaf and was an excellent snack to begin with; the eel flavour was nicely lifted by the wasabi, the peas good and the lettuce very fresh (15/20). Bread is made from scratch in the kitchen, with two choices offered this evening. Rosemary brioche came with chicken skin butter, and sourdough loaf came with marmite butter with crispy pearl barley. These were both excellent, but I particularly enjoyed the delicate brioche with its subtle taste of rosemary (easily 16/20)

A dish of raw slices of scallops came with gooseberries, oyster and peas. This worked well, the fruit providing some nice balance to the sweetness of the scallops (15/20). This was followed by a dish of langoustine with sweet corn with a stock of dashi, parsley, thyme, coriander and dried mushrooms left to infuse for a few moments before the shellfish was served. The main element of the dish was served with cucumber spaghetti, sweet corn purée, shimeji mushrooms, langoustine dumplings, scorched langoustines and lardo. The langoustine had good inherent flavour and worked well with the cucumber strands, which in turn balanced the sweet corn nicely (16/20).

Yeast dried cauliflower purée came with crispy capers, dehydrated grapes, mint oil and fresh mint. This was very impressive, the various textures in the dish working nicely together, the mint not overpowering. It is one thing to make a luxury ingredient taste good, but it takes some ability to generate this much pleasure from the humble cauliflower (16/20).

Duck breast was served with cured duck, duck heart, spiced mango purée, confit fennel, fresh fennel, duck crumb, cannelloni of duck leg meat with spiced mango and mango line zest. Although this was a busy dish, the elements were harmonious, the spicy mango an excellent foil to the meat, the fennel excellent (17/20).

A salad of duck egg came with Belper Knolle Swiss hard cheese, asparagus, cep purée, egg yolk purée, raw peas, broad beans and fresh girolles. This was another dish where there were plenty of elements but they worked together very well, the vegetables fresh and the mushroom purée having rich flavour (16/20).

A pre dessert of toasted almond foam came with lemon sorbet, almond praline and lemon oil (15/20). Pistachio cake was served with caramelised white chocolate, strawberry wafer tuile, white chocolate powder and candied pistachios. The fresh strawberries also had a strawberry sorbet and white chocolate and strawberry cigar and atsina cress, which has a sweet aniseed flavour. I really liked the dish with the exception of the pistachio sponge cake, whose cooking process resulted in a bathroom sponge-like consistency rather than that of a classic sponge cake. However the fruit had very good flavour and the pistachios were an excellent foil for the strawberries (15/20).

A coffee dessert came with several variations on coffee flavour: panna cotta, meringue cake, ice cream and even coffee toffee. Filling out the rest of the dish were caravel popcorn, liquid nitrogen caramel mousse, burnt orange segments, orange gel, coffee tuiles and orange powder The ice cream in particular was excellent, silky and intensely flavoured, though in this case there did seem to be a few too many elements for the dish to be completely harmonious (15/20).

Coffee was good, with rich flavour but avoiding bitterness, from Klimpson and Sons in Broadway market. This was served with a delicate raspberry marshmallow. Service was very good, the staff friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the dishes. The bill came to £125 a head, but this was with pre-dinner drinks and one of the better wines. If you ate three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill would come to around £75 a head all in. The chef’s style to some extent shows his Tom Aikens heritage, dishes being elaborate assemblies of elements that in less talented hands could easily just be a mess. However in dish after dish the combinations came off, and the technique was hard to fault. Overall I was very impressed with Typing Room, which is serving innovative and enjoyable dishes that for me were in firm one star Michelin territory.


Further reviews: 06th Jun 2017

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