[UPDATE: 2021-12-28: This restaurant is permanently closed]
Years ago I went to a gastropub/restaurant in Hoxton called Bacchus which, at the time, was one of the most exciting eating places I had been to, with dishes that were so out-of-the-ordinary and well executed. The head chef was Nuno Mendes, hailed as the next most exciting chef to watch out for in the UK since Heston Blumenthal. Then the place disappeared, and Nuno Mendes did various things on the opposite side of London that I didn’t take much notice, until he opened Viajante in East London, and then I decided to pay a visit again. It has taken a few attempts to get there, as every time I wanted to book for dinner (even quite well in advance), I didn’t manage to secure a table at the time I wanted.
The website did not give away any hints on the menu – the only thing was that for the 12-course menu, the booking must be for 8pm. That didn’t bother me and so I booked a table for one Sunday evening in September.
The restaurant was set in a town hall in Bethnal Green. With its high ceiling, the place felt pretty spacious. Not long after we ordered, the food started arriving….
(1) House sashimi – Interesting dish that played with the mind. I expected “sashimi” meant that the dish was based on raw fish, but there’s grilled peppers in there which gave a similar texture and confused my mind and taste-bud.
(2) Grilled broad beans – slightly on the dry side, and a rather unmemorable dish otherwise.
(3) Thai explosion II – this was a fish mousse sandwiched between two wafers. Interesting texture and the flavour did have a strong hint of the Far East.
(4) Razor clam, red pepper and pumpkin seeds – I love razor clams but this dish didn’t wow me.
(6) Botan ebi, smoked yogurt and rosemary
(7) Tomatoes, water, mozzarella and strawberries – very interesting combination and a refreshing dish.
(8) Scallop, pickled cucumber and celery juice
(9) Wild mushrooms and artichoke, cured belly and pine nut milk – Full of flavour and it was one of the better dishes.
(10) Charred leeks, white asparagus, hazelnuts and milk skin – a bit of a messy presentation and the overall taste was OK but not great.
(11) Braised salmon skin and fried aubergine – Could have been mistaken this as a dish from a Japanese restaurant. It was good, but not so original.
(12) King crab with chicken jus and spicy paste – It was a little bland and I wasn’t sure if the texture worked either. For some reasons it looked more like processed chicken roll.
(13) Iberico pig neck, langoustine and broth – This was probably one of the best dishes in the whole meal. The pig neck could have been slightly more tender but it was nicely flavoured without one ingredient overpowering the others.
(14) Halibut, confit yolk, courgette ribbons and sofrito – it was a shame that the halibut was overcooked but the combination of the ingredients was well thought out.
(15) Squab, beetroot yoghurt and pistachio praline – the squab was cooked well but not spectacular. Interesting mixture of flavours.
(16) Green tea and shiso – a refreshing start to the desserts.
(17) Blueberries, goat’s curd, lemon thyme and caramel – I wasn’t sure about the combination went well together. The ingredient that I enjoyed most was the blueberries unfortunately.
(18) Panna cotta ice cream, yoghurt, crumbled oats, hazelnuts, thai basil and apple – presentation was somewhat messy and despite the contrast in texture, there’s not much taste to this.
(19) Petit fours
Maybe I was expecting too much after Bacchus. However after the whole meal I felt that the standard had gone backwards. For something as experimental as this, I did not expect to like every single dish. But the hit rate seemed to be rather low this time.
Address: Patriot Square, London E2 9NF, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7871 0461
Opening Hours: Daily 12:00-14:30 & 19:00-23:30
Total: 14/20 [Based on visit in September 2010]