In April, Lee Westcott must have been the most stressed chef in London. He not only opened a restaurant under the watchful eye of Jason Atherton, he boldly filled Nuno Mendes’ shoes after the master chef packed up Viajante for The Chiltern Firehouse – a place so annoyingly popular, you’re unlikely to find it here.
Fortunately for Lee, stress levels diminished as the reviews came in. Faye Maschler called it a ‘triumph’ and I, for all it’s worth, struggled to find fault with much other than the price (a drunken look of shock swept across our faces when we got the bill).
We entered Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel and took a right into the Peg & the Patriot. Here we had an obligatory aperitif (we make our own rules), before moving across the hall for dinner. As we walked into the dining room, we were struck by the attentiveness of the many, many waiters, along with the decor, which was fresh, modern and streamlined, dotted with quirky artwork and vases of wild flowers.
The menu had – thank goodness – ignored the stale ‘sharing’ trend, instead adopting a traditional three course approach, or a six course tasting menu for £55. Over complimentary brioche smothered in chicken skin butter, we decided to start with a £5 ‘snack’ – Cumin Lovoche, Crab, Sweetcorn & Curried Egg.
Then, ‘To Begin’, we had Mackerel (£10), Langoustine (£15) and Veal Sweetbread (£15). The Mackerel was lovely and light, served raw with a fresh medley of passion fruit, burnt cucumber and radish. The rich, soft Sweetbread was richer, but balanced by a summery bed of crunchy raw pea, white asparagus and buttermilk.
The Langoustine was my favourite of the three. Fat and juicy, the shellfish paired wonderfully with carrot, coriander and nutty pistachio. That said, even with my cold, I knew each dish needed a touch more seasoning.
‘To Follow’ we were all about the meat. Pink, succulent lamb (£24) came with aromatic accompaniments of smoked aubergine, wild garlic, creamy yoghurt and sweet onion, reminding me of one of my favourite Ottolenghi creations.
Pigeon (£26) was smoked in pine (something I probably wouldn’t have realised if it weren’t for the waiter) and the Suckling Pork Belly (£22) didn’t last long on the plate – crisp on top (good) and served with a sweet combination of peach, mustard and lettuce (better).
‘Treats’ were a must, so we ordered three between three (you do the maths). Counting down, Green Tea with Yoghurt & Sesame (£8) came in third; the flavours were unique, but I always crave chocolate. Strawberry, pistachio & white chocolate (£9) was up next – an intensely fruity dish, it was like summer in a bowl.
But the winner had to be Chocolate, Amaretto & Almond (£9), which won over our hearts and stomachs with its multiple textures and delightful flavours.
I really enjoyed Typing Room and would certainly recommend it – just watch the price as it’ll creep up on you like the Candyman. I hope Lee Westcott has received a well deserved pat on the back from Jason, but either way, I’m giving his restaurant a LLE Rating of 8.5/10.
Typing Room, Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF