Sunday, July 1, 2012

Viajante - (London)

Michelin 1 Stars

  Chef Nuno Mendes is a highly exploratory chef.  His modern European cuisine is virtually living on the edge on a daily basis,  but still carries a sensibility to it all for harmony.   I think some of the food presented were truly excellent here,  although at the same time I somehow felt that the overall integration of their core recipes and their tendency to be quite aggressive in some of their courses,  can make the customer feel a bit alienated.  Perhaps it is a little ahead of it’s times?    But at a bargain 90 Pounds for a 12 Courses Tasting Menu,  this is just begging for you to make a reservation,  provided that you’re game enough to explore their new & bold food ideas which might be needing refinement and perfecting the overall concept..!



It is more about being Casual than Fine Dining in the setting -
I appreciate how they don’t implement strict dress codes here
,  which is normally reflective of the meal to come after.   Britain has definitely changed as of late,  as I vividly remember the old days when a jacket and a collar must be worn when you enter a fine dining restaurant even in the midst of summer and you will get scorned at for taking your jacket off in the dining room.  But the last 5 London Michelin starred restaurants I have visited all carried much laxer attire policies much like Spain’s Michelin starred restaurants,  where customers casually arrive in shorts and short sleeves.   In this aspect,  London is finally distancing itself from the more conservative French or Hong Kong establishments.  As I keep saying again and again...  Why should I as a customer, need to respect the restaurant and other guests if the restaurant itself can’t respect my stomach enough?   It had better churn out good enough food which can justify me arriving in a suit and wearing a tie, and say serve good enough cheeses!!   Having a poorly planned Tasting Menu at Caprice or Robuchon L’Atelier and even 3 Starred 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo does not exactly instill confidence,  why should I then bother to even properly dress up?  I can eat better food overseas and sit on my lovely sofa in a more relaxed environment and be dressed casually enough so that my tummy doesn’t bulge out!  At least I get way better amuse bouches to begin my meals there.    


Table -




Chicken Confit and Thai Flavoured Explosion, with Fried Chicken Skin and Coconut Tuile -
A very convincing amuse bouche to begin the night.   ~  10/10



Smoked Amaranth, with Pop Corn Powder -
A little sweetish with a strong aroma of amaranth and pop corn.
Interesting starter.   ~  8/10




A Loire Valley white wine of Chenin Blanc 2009 -
Quite approachable,  but the grapefruit acidity with the minerality can give me instant headaches.  But still decently chosen I suppose. Open-mouthed smile


Warm Cuttle Fish and Grilled ‘Chicken of the Woods’ Mushroom -
This looked simple but was really nice in the cuttlefish and mushroom aroma.  ~  7/10


Potato with Lardo Fat, Garlic Butter and Yeast, topped with Dried Olives -
The main character is the ‘yeast’,  which gave it a very earthy component and a sprinkle of sea salt and the lardo fat contributed flavours which hit all the right spots in your 6 senses of tasting. Worked very well together and that whisk of yeastiness in the air was unmistakable!  ~  12/10


Potato & Wholemeal Baguette - 
Served with Browned Butter with Chicken Skin, Pancetta and Purple Potato Powder,
Bacon Onion Bread –
Served with Smoked Butter, Black Salt and Walnut.
These were seriously very utterly amazing breads,  with Russian as well as British influence respectively and tasted just soooo right.. !!    I have got to say these home made breads really surprised me as they were irresistible and every other table asked for refills.  The Bacon Onion Bread is quite British and can also be found in The Ledbury (London).  The accompanying butters are also impressive and worked very well with the bread, but the browned butter version started to split when it became warmer.  In fact,  I will go back to this restaurant just to satisfy my bread craving!  It was seriously that good.  Utterly amazing bread stuff..  ~   12/10

Grilled Leek, Fresh Pine and Sauce,  with Nitrogen frozen Unpasteurized Cows Milk -
The pine buds and sauce were really addictive with that unique aroma and almost tannic.  The whole dish sounded simple enough,  but the flavours were spot on complementing one another.  A nice enough entrée which cannot be faulted.  ~  9/10

Sliced Oyster, Borlotti Bean and Dashi broth & Apple Blossom.  With a drizzle of Olive Oil -
The broth is made from both borlotti beans and bonito fish,  which is possibly half Italian and half Japanese in inspiration but it worked.  Go figure!  The oyster was also of very high quality.  The apple blossom made for an aromatic contribution.  ~  8/10


Poached Quail Egg,  Brown Crab,  Fried Enoki Strips,
Black Mustard & Garlic Puree with Green Chlorophyll -
An aggressive dish.  The highlight has to be the Chlorophyll and perfectly cooked quail egg…
The weakness was the brown crab meat itself which needed either more quantity or sweetness or even tomalley/roe flavour to balance the chlorophyll and garlic.   Nearly there… ~  6.5/10



Razor Clam,  Frozen Pine nut Cream Cognac,
Squid Demi-Glace, with a bit of Kaffir Lime Leaf influence -
Another highly successful dish.  The broth was refreshing and amazing with both lime leaf and squid demi-glace concentration.  The pine nut cognac cream and the very fresh razor clam was all work in harmony.   ~  12/10


White Asparagus 2 Ways, Crème Fraiche Butter. 
Butter Milk,   Spiced Bread,  Dill & Olive Oil -
The drizzles of oils were becoming a little repetitive.
This dish sounded interesting but I didn’t think the flavours reflect the recipe much.  ~  6/10



Brill Fish, Yellow Courgette & Mussel Puree, with Cider and Mussels Foam,
Spring Vegetables & Pickles, Chicken Skin Crumbs and Almond Powder -
The formula sounds quite complicated.  It worked well in general,  but seemed a little weak in the individual flavours to be perceivable by normal human senses?  Too weak in other words   ~  7/10




Salted Cod Roasted in Seaweed – 2 Courses
Seaweed and Cod Fish Skin coated cod meat,  is served with Bacalao & Garlic dashi broth.
This was quite salty to my liking,  even if I am a perennial big fan of Bacalao salted cod in general.
But the concept was interesting enough.  It just needs more fine tuning.  ~  6/10


2nd Cod Dish -  Cod Tripes,  Onion, Parsley and Potato Compote,
Fried Shredded Potatoes & Olive Oil drizzle -
The cod tripes were surprisingly fairly plump fatty,  and despite being slightly too oily in the composition overall, was very addictive and worth coming back for this dish.  Still has room for improvement.   ~  9/10


Kitchen Team -
Very synchronized,  to the point, I noticed that most of the food came at the perfect temperature and each person was doing their role properly.




Smoked Bone Marrow, Swiss Herb,  Walnuts & Mushrooms -
The Swiss Herb was quite minty,  which is what Switzerland is famous for considering it’s famous herbal lollies?   The marrow was cooked well but probably served as too small a portion.  I liked this dish,  but didn’t think it was too special somehow.  May be a bit too balanced!  ~  7/10


Roasted Suckling Pig Head meat,  Pecan and Caramelized Lactose Mole sauce,
Yogurt with Basil Powder,  Grilled Corn Bread -
A highly sophisticated dish which looked simpler than the recipe.
It was a great main course and the appearance totally belies it’s real life performance.  ~  10/10


Roasted Leg of Lamb,  with Quinoa, Goats Curd and Lactose Jus -
The lactose made it’s 2nd appearance tonight following right after the last course,  but this time it was combined with the lamb jus.  The top of the lamb leg came with crispy lamb skin.  This dish was good but a similar dish at The Ledbury probably won my heart much more.  ~  7/10



Cucumber Granita,  Fresh and Pickled Cucumber,
Smoked Cucumber Jelly with Mint Sauce,  and reduced Milk Ice Cream -
This had cucumber presented in at least 4 different ways,  and was a nice enough palate cleanser,  if not becoming a little bit clumsy in discernible taste?   The cucumber, reduced milk and mint was a very good combination indeed…  but the next course was too similar in style to this for contrast.  ~  8/10



Frozen Pear, Lemon Meringue, 
Pecan Puree and Cider Gel -
I liked this,  but it was becoming a little too fuzzy and the flavours didn’t really shout out individually enough like the above?   It was a bit too granita like, much like the above cucumber palate cleanser.   Might be quite good in recipe by itself mind you,  however it didn’t have enough coherence in concept and become integrated in unity, where individual components sing individually yet marching in synchronicity.  Especially when served right after the very similar granita above,  which made it seem more of an afterthought  (Hope it wasn’t too harsh thinking this way though).  ~  6/10


Candied Jerusalem Artichoke,  Jerusalem Artichoke skin coated in Chocolate and it’s Juice Reduction.  With Frozen Orange Tears,  Chocolate Crumbs and Rosemary Ice Cream -
This dessert was very exploratory,  with a tuber vegetable turned into a dessert and served with herbal ice cream.  It reminded me of Marron Glace somehow!   This worked much more brilliantly than the above 2 desserts,  kudos to the kitchen for thinking up of such a strange dessert concept but somehow worked seamlessly.  Ingenious…  ~  10/10


Chinese Tea,  Oolong White Tips -
Chinese or Taiwanese teas seem to be prevalent in London or Europe nowadays.  It can be spotted everywhere,  it seems to be a new trend. 


Frozen Olive Oil with Vanilla -
Another liquid nitrogen frozen Mignardise to end the night,
this must be eating quickly with your hands before it starts to break down.
Interesting concept as one hardly sees Olive Oil served in this form,  but taste wise it was a bit of an acquired tasted as it was quite vanilla and olive like!     ~  7/10




Salted Porcini and Chocolate Truffle -
Another daring course.  How often do you see salted Porcini truffle to be served at the end of a meal?   It was performing really well actually, the porcini flavour was so powerful yet likeable!   I think this was another highlight of the night for me and very memorable.   ~   12/10




A little too Fussy, Yes -
But equally exploratory and probably trying hard to impress within each individual course.
There were some amazing dishes served here and which truly deserve their credits.  Some other dishes in the meantime seemed to have lost concentration,  as it could just be anything and became a little random.   Do you prefer to dine out and enjoy a serendipitous adventure which doesn’t even give you a structured menu, just to maximize the surprise?  And if so,  some dishes are still more likely to work better than others to be served on the night.  To me,  I really felt this was really worth my gamble.   If they could compact up the dishes and make them more integrated than individually fussy,  it would be an amazing world beater.  But chefs also need to cook, administer and sleep.  They probably need more time to work it all out in due time.




Price: British Pounds £90 plus wines
Ease of Access – 3/5  (Around 10 minutes walk to closest Train Station. Take a Taxi like I did.)

Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 -  ♕♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Lunch: 12:00 - 14:00 (Friday to Sunday)
Dinner Daily: 18:00 - 21:30
Lunch will be available from Wednesday - Sunday as of
Wednesday the 4th of July, through until the end of August.

Address: Patriot Square  City of London, London, Greater London E2 9NF
Ph: +44 (0) 20 7871 0461


  1. this is quite innovative.

    12/10 for the truffle... this must taste really outstanding. i wanna have a bite of this. kekekeke

  2. One of my favourites:) Will you be checking out Nuno Mendes's Corner Room upstairs?

  3. Hi, not sure where you got the Michelin info from, but I'm quite sure Viajante is still one Michelin star in 2012. Food looks good though!

  4. Michelle, Wingz - I did like some of the dishes here, and would love to check out Nuno Mendes's Corner Room!

    For the love of Food - thanks for pointing it out. I never buy the Michelin Guides and for some reason this site: gave it 2 stars, so I just copied it directly. A bit embarrassed now xS



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