Lee Westcott, a relatively young chef with an impressively rich culinary heritage (Noma, Per Se, Tom Aitkens), has now headed up Bethnal Green’s Typing Room for three years. The place opened in 2014 under the guidance of the ubiquitous Jason Atherton, and continues to thrill restaurant critics and punters alike. It’s a wonder that, with this standard of cooking and elegance, Typing Room does not yet have a certain star above the door. Could this be their year?
Bethnal Green Town Hall used to house another heavy hitter in Nuno Mendes, but since he moved on to pastures new (Chiltern Firehouse – you may have heard of it), and now plays host to The Typing Room. There is something of hiding in plain sight about the place – we managed to walk right past it, with google maps leading us into a school where our request for the signature yeasted cauliflower was met with bemusement. The building itself is regal and stands proud with majesty, the perfect setting for the sophisticated fare provided through its doors.
The effortless service does justice to the lightness of touch in all aspects of the room and food. There isn’t a whiff of stuffiness – and it’s a baking hot day – as wait staff glide between tables delivering plates and platitudes. The room is busy, with an open kitchen having the theatre covered, but a sense of privacy prevails as there is ample space between diners of different parties.
We opted for the lunch deal, an absolute snip at around the 30 pound mark for 3 courses, with additional snacks costing an extra 4. The aforementioned snacks prove a highlight – we’re still debating which was better. Crispy cod skin with oyster emulsion and leaf is saline and quite frankly, thrilling. Even better possibly, is a pig’s head croquette with smoked apple puree, the taste of wood and fire an inspired touch. IPA sourdough with a marmite butter is almost too salty, but it’s fantastic and ever so moreish. We have to reign in temptation to request more. There follows a celebration of seasonal British ingredients with Nordic flourishes abound, the hot summer’s day demanding light dishes and the restaurant very much obliging. The much celebrated yeasted cauliflower and raisins delivers intrigue and depth, whilst heritage tomatoes, courgettes and a whey sauce split with green oil is as summery as one could imagine. The delicate continues with excellent fish courses and desserts round off the meal in a cleansing, cooling fashion.
We weren’t in the mood for wine, and the helpful, charming waiter steered us in the direction of some superb craft ales. The wine list is as interesting and varied as you’d expect from a restaurant of this poise.
Get in here before the star, because, in our view, it’s only a matter of time. The fare seemed so suited to the season, so apt and synergetic, that we’re determined to visit again once the London nights get a little cooler, to see if the feat can be matched with flavours of the Autumnal. Address: Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF, UK Website: www.typingroom.com