Saturday, 28 June 2014

Typing Room Writes Well

Typing Room has replaced Viajante in the Town Hall hotel. Viajante used to be one of my favourites, and I spent countless weekends in his little Corner Room upstairs, so I was a bit sad to see them go. That said I was psyched about Typing Room - Jason Atherton had taken over with Lee Westcott heading the kitchen. 

We kicked off the evening with a couple of cocktails at Peg & Patriot just opposite the dining room. The Scottish Porn Star was deliciously fruity and refreshing, served with a shot of Irn Bru on the side; Barley Legal was creamier and exotically sweet with a pineapple rum base. The decor in both the bar and dining room remains more or less the same as Viajante, I think even the furniture was the same. At 8:30 we were seated in the front next to the open kitchen so we could see the team in action. There was a 6-course tasting menu and a la carte - we opted for a la carte and a couple of snacks.

Rosemary brioche with chicken skin butter and black olive roll with puffed barley butter
The bread platter was exciting. The chicken skin butter reminded me of Viajante's whipped butter with sprinkles of iberico ham & chicken skin; this version was equally light and airy, but  more subdued with flavours. The mini brioche loaf was gorgeous, fluffy and buttery, laden with aromatic rosemary and perfectly seasoned with sea salt. I'm going to try to make this at home!

Cumin lavoche, crab, sweet corn & curried egg
I wanted to try the fish skin snack, but Shan doesn't eat fish skin (and he considers himself half Asian!), so we settled for our server's recommendation. The crispy, spiced flatbread was loaded with shreds of dressed crab mixed with broken eggs and sweet corn - quite a predictable mixture of flavours, the sweet, juicy crab was good, just not mind-blowing. 

Chicken wing 'drumstick', wild garlic, potato & lemon
In a nutshell, this was a posh mini chicken kiev. BUT a damn good one. The wings were de-boned and stuffed with fluffy garlic butter, which pretty much exploded when we bit into crusty shell encasing the soft, tender meat. The potato foam served on the side with hints of lemon added a refreshing lift to the strong garlic filling. It's a very comforting snack that really hits the spot.

Raw Beef, smoked beetroot, turnip, horseradish & sorrel
This was almost like a cross between a tartare and carpaccio. It was dressed like a carpaccio with thinly sliced pickled turnip and beetroot, but the beef was finely minced and spread as a layer on the plate. So the textures were smoother and creamier than the typical carpaccio but paired with the array of pickles. I personally prefer the flavours of a classic tartare, but this was nonetheless quite interesting.

Veal sweetbread, raw pea, white asparagus & buttermilk
I have made it a habit to order sweetbread when I see it on the menu; I love the bouncy and wobbly texture, its luscious richness and fatty fragrance. This ticked all the boxes. The raw pea wasn't really raw, but they were ultra crunchy, together with the strips of asparagus, they were good contrast to the sweetbread, keeping the dish light. I enjoyed it, only wish there was more.

Lamb, smoked aubergine, wild garlic, yoghurt & onion
There were 2 different cuts of lamb, loin and belly (I think - only based on the layers of the lean meat and fat). The loin was cooked to a perfect medium, the pink meat was glistening with its meat juice and was meltingly tender. Despite being an avid lover of fatty meats, I wasn't a fan of the belly. Perhaps it was too thinly sliced and so slightly overcooked to my liking; the small tile of meat was dry and lacked lamb flavours, quite rough on the mouthfeel too. 

For me, the flavours from the aubergine made up for the imperfections of the belly. The sauce had a pronounced sweetness that complimented the subtle smokiness from the veg. That did it for me.

Pigeon smoked in pine, salt baked celeriac, lovage & hazelnut
Contrary to the lamb dish, the pigeon was cooked beautifully to a perfect medium; the bird was delicately smoked, succulent, gently gamey and tender. While the soft celeriac and nuttiness worked well with the pigeon, it just wasn't as exciting as the lamb & aubergine combination; perhaps a tad too salty for me too. It was still a sophisticated dish, just marginally tipped off balance.

Pre-dessert: Parsley sorbet with lime & ginger granita
A refreshing cleanser on the palate, especially with the ginger essence.

Chocolate, amaretto & almond
Rich and indulgent

Jasmine brulee, apple
Oh the jasmine brulee was stunning, super smooth and custardy held in a sugar glaze tube; tea fragrance was very subtle. We were completely baffled by the cubes of pickled apple, however. They were eye-wateringly sour - Shan did well to keep a straight face. We mixed them up with the jelly, marshmallow ice, ice cream... tried everything but nothing worked with those sour bombs. Apart from that, gorgeous dessert. 

I enjoyed my evening at Typing Room, it was surprisingly similar to Viajante; some daring pairing of ingredients, great attention to detail and a few bold moves. Dishes were complex but no confused, and execution demanded precision. Alright maybe not everything hits the spot, but I was happy they made the effort. Service was lovely, the waiting staff knew their menu well and came up with good recommendations, very smiley and friendly; everything was swift and smooth. We were still chatting away as the time crept near midnight, but the staff just left us to it. Our server was incredibly sweet and even offered us a little taster of the strawberry and pistachio dessert that we pondered over. That said she did forget our wine completely, but we'll let it slide. 

Side note: we were introduced to the £11,000 chair that casually sits outside the restaurant at the hotel entrance, made with human hair. I sat on it; it felt expensive. Apparently plenty of special designer pieces were dotted around the hotel, because the owner has an obsession with chairs. Yea, that summarises it.

Typing Room
Town Hall Hotel
Patriot Square
E2 9NF
Tel: 0207 871 0461

Typing Room on Urbanspoon
You may also like: Dabbous, StorySocial Eating House

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