An underappreciated herb it may be, but lovage takes centre stage in the Typing Room’s delicious chocolate and hazelnut dessert. Adding crunch to wafery dark chocolate that’s like a luxe Aero bar, crumbled hazelnut sits alongside delicate frozen yoghurt, while dollops of lovage, reminiscent of celery, brings the whole thing together. It was an excellent finale to the tasting menu at this new venture in Bethnal Green. Situated in the Town Hall Hotel, Typing Room has taken up the space left by Michelin-star restaurant Viajante, whose head chef Nuno Mendes is now at the helm of the celebrity-encrusted Chiltern Firehouse. Known for his bold and experimental combinations, Portuguese-born Mendes was one of London’s most celebrated chefs while at east London’s THH, before he became London’s most celebrated chef now that he’s in Marylebone. Backing the Typing Room is another uber-cook, Jason Atherton, of Pollen Street Social fame, and he has chosen young Lee Wescott to lead the kitchen here. Wescott ran Atherton’s 22 Ships and Ham & Sherry tapas restaurants in Hong Kong, and he has also done stints at Noma, Tom Aikens in Chelsea and Claridge’s under Gordon Ramsay.
The Typing Room tasting menus are five or seven courses, and one each is designed for omnivores, pescaterians and vegetarians. The dishes are described simply enough: turnip, pea and crab, or raw scallop, dill and gooseberries, however the reality is far more complex. Unexpected ingredients, sauces and consommés appear with each plate, and while many of the individual elements are exciting to see, the result is sometimes obfuscation. Where this complexity does work is for the lamb with burnt aubergine, yoghurt and onion, which was standout, as was the octopus carpaccio that came with bass, heritage tomato and squid. The yeasted cauliflower was a savoury delight, and the rosemary brioche a treat – serving as an opening bookend to the pleasing afters. The Rice Rice Baby cocktail with rice ice cream was a refreshing sake-like digestif. With clear influences coming from all of his previous experiences, it seems that Westcott and his team are still finding their niche. There’s certainly inventiveness there, which might just benefit from a strong guiding hand (Atherton’s perhaps?). We’d love to see Typing Room find its temperament, and suggest that Westcott would do well to apply Coco Chanel’s advice about accessories to his menu: before it leaves his kitchen, take one thing off each dish. Then, perhaps consider removing a few more.
What we loved: Rice Rice Baby cocktail; Rosemary brioche; cauliflower cooked to unleash its potential.
Typing Room is in the Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF.
Text by Ananda Pellerin