The felt marker blue lines gradually moved down the page. But my line had to make so many stops, it didn’t have a chance. And the other lines finished in some cases hours ahead of mine.
Several diners and I were enjoying a tasting lunch at Viajante. Each blue line indicated how far along the tasting menu each diner had progressed.
While it soon became clear that my blue line was going to finish its journey dead last, that also meant I would enjoy the most number of dishes - 20, to be exact, by the time I added in the six mini-appetizers and couple of extra tasting dishes.
This journey produced one delightful – and delicious – surprise after another. While most restaurants provide a menu at the beginning of your meal, here at Viajante you don't get your menu until the end.
"Do you have any food allergies or other types of food you don't like?" asks your server.
And so the journey starts, with mini-appetizers like amaranth with sorrel, and “main” courses like crab with milk skin and peas, smoked bone marrow with carrot and horseradish, celeriac with roasted potato and mushrooms, Iberico pig tail with Jerusalem artichoke and black carrot with toasted caraway ice cream.
Especially if you also take the wine pairing, you should plan to spend up to three to four hours on your meal.
If you are in a romantic mode, ask to be seated in the back room so between courses you can gaze into each others' eyes without distraction.
However if you're in a foodie mode, then choose the front room where you can watch all the preparation action taking place in front of you in the open kitchen.
Chef-owner Nuno Mendes and his offsiders pay careful attention to every detail as they prepare and plate each dish. They often use tweezers and eyedroppers to add sauces and place decorations like tiny edible flowers exactly where they should go on the plate.
Mendes, widely respected and liked in the restaurant business for his willingness to train newcomers, earned his first Michelin star for Viajante less than a year after its March, 2010, opening. He has now mostly left behind food towers and foam to experiment more recently with skins.
“I have found dehydrating and then rehydrating meat, fish, fruit and vegetable skins enables them to take in and then release more flavors as well as producing interesting textures, ” he said.
“And this process eliminates most of the fat from the meat and fish skins."
Viajante means “traveller” in Portuguese, reflecting Mendes’ heritage and approach to the tasting menu voyage.
“Our team have travelled the globe to bring their experiences to the table and tell stories through food,” says the website. “We serve an ever-changing blind tasting menu to take our guests on a unique culinary journey.
“We are inspired by the sea and bring this influence to our menus. We respect sustainability and fair trading principles – making sure we bring you healthy and fresh cuisine.”
Prices range from $55 for a three-course lunch to $155 for the 12-course dinner – including those mini-appetizers. A six-course wine pairing would add another $60.
Viajante recently ranked 176th out of 11,741 London restaurants reviewed on TripAdvisor. For more details, go to http://www.viajante.co.uk/
If you are having trouble getting a reservation, you could try Corner Room, Viajante’s sister restaurant and also part of the Town Hall Hotel. It “combines Mendes’ quality cuisine with informality and affordability,” offering a la carte items at lunch and encouraging local residents and Town Hall Hotel guests to dine by having walk-ins only for dinner.
And don’t worry about those blue lines: just enjoy the innovative tastes and designs of each dish.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.