London’s Best-Kept Gastro Secret


When El Bulli, the world’s most famous restaurant, closed for a year to give its creator a break, foodies all over the planet groaned – after all, more time would now be added to the two-year waiting list for tables. Who would have thought the next best thing would appear in a run-down area of East London?

But that’s what Viajante is. Nuno Mendes has poured all his creative verve into building an avant-garde, thrilling restaurant that remains the City’s best-kept secret. The old Bethnal Green town hall has been converted into a restaurant for the senses, and has cleverly arranged its menu to cover a range of prices. We went for a friend’s birthday treat and started with some of the most astonishing cocktails I’ve ever tasted, one containing rum and Victorian porter.

The menu is blind – you order 6, 9 or 12 small courses without knowing what you’ll get, and you can drink-pair the courses (one recommendation with a Japanese dish was a sweet & salty Belgian beer). After, they’ll give you a copy of your menu.

This is not a meal for the easily frightened; tastes explode and linger in the nose and throat. From the pre-meal galangal and lemongrass-scented chicken sandwich with rendered skin, via parsnips with onion tapioca and coffee, bonfire-flavoured fish and charred leeks with hazelnuts and milk skin to sea buckthorn and burnt meringue, with mushroom flavoured chocolate truffles, it’s a unique experience that has left critics reaching for superlatives.

Viajante provided dishes the likes of which I’ve never tasted, and is well worth the trek to Patriot Square, Bethnal Green. A day later, I can recall those tastes. An awesome treat for someone you love.

6 comments on “London’s Best-Kept Gastro Secret”

  1. jan says:

    A day later most of us would be remembering those tastes because they kept repeating on us !

  2. Steve says:

    Judging by my reaction, I’d have to say I’m not quite as adventurous as I thought myself to be – gastronomically speaking that is.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Judging by the amount of charring, there is a problem with the stoves and aren’t truffles mushrooms? It sounds a little redundant. Why would anyone put milk skin into anything? You realize that we’re just jealous, of course.

  4. Steve says:

    Went to a Restaurant in London once called Christopher’s. Uppity.

    I can wear class like a tailored suit when I choose; but pretention brings out the boorish American in me.

    One was vastly amused.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    Please tell me I’m being wound up again. Please

  6. admin says:

    No, Helen, it was awesome!

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