If you think it's a hike to Bethnal Green to eat, think again - it's right on the Central Line or a long bike in good weather if you are from other parts of town and Viajante is worth the journey. Located off the entrance to the Town Hall Hotel, a magnificent renovation of, yes, the BG Town Hall with wonderful dark woods, brass and skylights , this exceptional restaurant is a delight from start to finish - one of the best in London and way better than Heston's in the more sedate and boring Kensington (or even the original Fat Duck which also now at least pales compared to this place) as a clear example of the travel being well worth it. The menu has a Portuguese accent centered on fish, greens and meat, but it is unusual delicious and surprising. That it has 1 Michelin star already is no surprise either. There is no set menu but a tasting menu and there's nothing to be put off here about that. We sampled 5 varied starters from Gordal olive soup to a virtual delicate clam dumpling made from clam broth to prawns with dulse and then followed up with the six course menu which include crab with milk skin and peas to celeriac with roasted potatoes and mushrooms and a very nice Iberian pork with a fine vegetable wrap. You should call in advance if you are curious about the rest of it. The service was excellent, with different waiters for different courses, all very interested in what you wanted or might not like with the bartender even coming in from the bar on the other side of the hotel to whip up a special margarita to order with fresh lime and lemon as it wasn't on the menu and they wanted to make sure everything was right. The head chef Nuno Mendes was a delight - warm, engaging and personal. And the hair was a hoot - one notices right away each of the waiters aside from their distinctive personalities had some wild and effective haircuts (so does Nuno - he looks like and has a bit of an air of Giancarlo Giannini. When I asked why this was so, they confirmed, perhaps only half jokingly that it was part of the job requirement to be different. So there you have it . Original, fun, and and effective. The only 'could be improved' comment would be that in contrast to the hotel the dining room except for the open air kitchen was bland and 'corporate' - which I was told they are changing ; and second the red wine selection was a bit short in contrast to the white wine selection which was excellent. They are addressing that also so by the time you get there I am sure it will be 5 stars on all points. On the food, the experience....... and the hair it already is hands down. And while you are at it tour the hotel, Bethnal Green and Hackney particularly by the Canal - a great excursion in good weather particularly. These areas are 'hot' for good reason this restaurant being one of them (see the pictures..).
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