Corner Room // Bethnal Green // London

Cambridge Heath might not be somewhere that many Londoners can pinpoint on a map, but there is one really good reason to discover this East London area. While the grimy industrial and housing estates aren’t exactly enticing, the magnificently restored Bethnal Green Town Hall certainly is. Now home to the Town Hall Hotel and Nuno Mendes’s two restaurants, which have been garnering a bit of attention themselves; the more causal of the two is the Corner Room.

Set in an intimate space, flanked by an industrial style full wall of glass, the dining room is lit with a feature wall of lights and is peppered with art and sleek furniture. Menu wise, Mendes offers astonishingly good value for both set-lunches and his a la carte dinner menu. But what makes the Corner Room really stand apart is the level of inventiveness and great cooking that diners get for a great deal less than the price of many gastro pubs.

Menu highlights include the light and sublimely dressed sea bream salad, with a taste of raw fish, sweet and luxurious against the tangy grapefruit and the freshness of the coriander sauce. The dish is given some texture coming from some pickled accompaniments. For the main course, the Barbary duck is a stunning piece of cooking, executed by someone who knows what they are doing. Velvety and rosé with crisp skin, the duck is accentuated by a deep rich sauce and buttery girolles, and balanced by some earthy spelt barley; a pleasure of a meal.

Not even deserts are let-downs. The intense beetroot sorbet is a stark contrast against a mixture of thickened cream and cereals, topped-off with two fresh and crispy meringue hats.

Service is warm and casual but still perfectly efficient. Guests have clearly decided that it is their new local favourite, with repeat visitors making themselves know. It seems Mendes has succeeded in making his informal, affordable neighbourhood restaurant; great job.

Square Meal