Note: Viajante was awarded a Michelin star in January 2011, subsequent to this visit.
After closing his critically acclaimed Bacchus in Hoxton in 2008 and an-almost two year hiatus, Nuno Mendes finally opened his eagerly anticipated restaurant, Viajante, in March. Mendes’ career spans stints under Wolfgang Puck, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ferran Adria at El Bulli, and his travels throughout Asia and South America have helped to formulate the concept that is behind Viajante, a word that means travelling in Portuguese.
To get the full Viajante experience, a restaurant located in the Bethnal Green Town Hall, we felt nothing less than the 12 course menu would do. So when we arrived for our 8pm booking, JK wasn’t particularly pleased to be told that we couldn’t be seated. A table of 16 had just arrived, and even though our table was available, we were asked to wait at the bar so that the restaurant could even out the service. We were led to believe we had to book an 8pm table if we wanted to do the 12 course tasting, so it seemed a bit odd that we couldn’t be seated AT 8pm.
The table we got was great though – right in front of the open kitchen and in full view of all the cooking action. The décor is pseudo-Scandinavian and looks a bit like an expensive version of Ikea. Nevertheless, it’s very comfortable and quite informal. Six, nine and twelve course tasting menus are available at dinner for £60, £75 and £85 respectively. Menus are not handed out before the meal as they’re surprise tastings, but brief explanations are given by the server as each course is presented.