Want wonderfully executed, confident dishes at a price that won’t break the bank? Head to Corner Room inside a town hall for a superb set menu.
Corner Room, Bethnal Green
In three words: Inventive, Cool, Assured
The Lowdown: It’s a bit of a mission to find Corner Room, tucked away inside the Town Hall of Bethnal Green. Fans of Peg + Patriot will know the building, but might not realise how far it stretches back. Still, it’s definitely worth investigating, since tucked into a corner room (ah ha…) is an intimate dining area doing exciting and damn tasty things with seasonal ingredients.
With Head Chef John Christie in charge, the kitchen is serving up impressive and innovative dishes that don’t cost the earth. And anyone who’s a fan of that great thing, the Set Menu, needs to make a beeline here.
Location: Bethnal Green, inside the huge and rather grand town hall – get buzzed through wooden doors and from there navigate what feels like a rabbit warren of corridors, double doors and a sweeping staircase… it’s one of the best ways to build meal-anticipation that we’ve experienced in a long time!
The Occasion: Corner Room makes for a lovely date venue – it’s intimate and trendy and the acoustics of the place make you feel like you’re alone with your partner. We also saw a few groups jostling around larger tables, all tucking into that rather delectable set-menu.
Decor: Minimalist chic – lamps are the stars of the show, with many wrought iron varieties dangling from the ceiling, casting a warm glow and looking like industrial stalactites. They make for a cool, designer-modern focal point against wooden panelling, white tiles and oak furniture.
Atmosphere: There’s a sense of casual competence about the whole place, from the way the dishes are plated to the elegant waitresses gliding around – a feeling that Corner Room would never be so crass as to boast, but they know they’re darn good (and deservedly so).
Culinary Concept: Each main dish features at least one prime ingredient sourced from within the UK, with a focus on matching simple flavours with innovative cooking techniques. The dishes are served in Instagram-friendly presentations that looks stunning and are more than worthy of the hashtag #FoodArt
What we tried: We started with a wedge of cured mackerel, slightly blowtorched to give a delectable crispy skin that was the perfect salty crunch to the succulent, vinegary-sweet fish. This worked well alongside a fruity kick of passion fruit butter and zing of pickled cucumber – very clever and adept flavour combinations . The main course I chose was also fish – a snowy white slab of cod, so fresh it was almost swimming on my plate above discs of vibrant carrot and delicious, unctuous curried sauce. The lightness of the fish combined with the heavy, fragrant drizzle of curry and coconut and kaffir lime leaf worked beautifully, and a stolen bite of my partner’s prettily-pink lamb neck with swede and mussel emulsion ensured me Corner Room could excel at meat as well as fish.
To finish I ordered the Bramley Apple with sea salt caramel and anis – a mouth-puckeringly good stewed apple concoction that was as tart as any citrus end to a meal. I couldn’t help nab a bite of the chocolate with malted milk and bee pollen though, and this proved to be true indulgence… silky chocolate that almost slid off the spoon and was accompanied by a crunch of honeycomb. With each dish it became gratifyingly obvious that there were no superfluous or showy elements here – everything on the plate was working in perfect harmony. Delicious.
For next time: The fresh cow’s curd with crisp rye, garlic and quince caught my eye, as did the duck with blood puree and chicory. I’d like to come and experience the flavour sensation of all the dishes, really.
Veggie delights: Vegetarians are not forgotten – there is the cow’s curd starter and a main course of braised leek with Riseley, truffle and chestnut to tempt their palates and provide something a little different than the standard veggie options they might have come to expect.
Best of the booze: We started with the herbal snap of a very tasty negroni served in a jam jar, and then proceeded to wine. There’s a great selection, the staff are knowledgable, and if you go for the set menu you can pair up glasses to dishes as well.
Overall: Whenever there is a relatively concise menu it suggests the dishes will (hopefully) be executed well – especially when you notice the huge amount of technical skill, and the importance of each ingredient. This is exactly what we found with Corner Room, and it almost reminded me of a swan – although I’m sure the kitchen is a flurry of activity, the calm running of the restaurant makes you feel incredibly serene. Each mouthful was delicious, the portions were ideal so there was no discomfort, and the dishes assured us of the intelligence and quality that has gone into crafting the menu choices. Come to Corner Room and feel yourself in the hands of gastronomic professionals.
Corner Room: Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF