The Typing Room is a fairly new venture (about six months old I believe) with Lee Westcott at the helm and ultimately part of the rapidly expanding Jason Atherton group. Rather than being in trendy Soho; a new glass highrise in the city; or even an opulent Fitzrovian hotel dining room, this is in East London. Past the usual Shoreditch too, out to Bethnal Green. The building is spectacular, it’s housed in the Town Hall Hotel which is the former home of Viajante and just by Bethnal Green tube. You might not find too many other places on this stretch of road though, let’s just say the area is catching up still.
First impressions are good, we were early and popped across the hallway to Peg & Patriot for some libations. The cocktail menu makes interesting reading, lots of novel combinations and interesting ingredients / techniques, obviously bringing up the possibility of either overworking a drink or perhaps creating something amazing. No surprise then that the founders have links to Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop, both of which have lots of twists. Lab style distilling equipment drew our attention and we discussed the equipment and bar ethos at length with the passionate bar staff. I had a “stripped” Aperol and elderflower concoction whilst Phil had a burnt banana rum creation. As it happens both drinks were very good, although maybe a well-made classic could have had as much impact. Great to see people trying new things though and very worth a visit before dinner (or at any other time).
Through to the dining room which is elegant, light, airy and classically proportioned. We could have been in a Georgian country house dining room. APA Bread was brought with whipped marmite butter and toasted grains. How good does that sound! A mini loaf between 2, served warm. A firm crust, soft interior and super soft umami-rich butter, delicious. We opted for some “snacks” whilst waiting, essentially what you’d expect of an amuse bouche for £5 for 2. Fair enough on a set lunch although a bit of a price bump. The fish skin was the most elegant fishy quaver possible, topped with smoked roe and very pretty too look at. I didn’t try the profiteroles but reports were good. Speaking of menus, lunch offers 5 / 7 courses or the very reasonable 2 / 3 courses at £24 / £29, which we decided on.
We all chose the same starter since it sounded so perfectly autumnal, quail with mushroom and madeira. A salty mushroom broth was brewed ceremoniously at the table, filtered and poured over an elegant dish of breast and confit leg. Teeny mushrooms, watercress and discs of madeira jelly garnished the plate. The quail was soft and tender, very skilfully prepared and executed. It paired perfectly with the mushrooms and the sweet madeira jelly cut through everything. The jus was a tiny bit salty and grainy but that’s nit-picking for a great dish. It was paired with an Austrian wine, crisp and refined.
Lamb and onion with yogurt next. Juicy lamb combined with a fatter slower cooked cut (I couldn’t quite identify it). Burnt onion added complexity, I liked the precision of the jus served in the skin for all 3 plates. A generous piece of meat for a set lunch, perfectly measured without carbs for 3 courses. The lamb was atop a sweet onion “sauerkraut”, we thought this was a bit too sweet and maybe a step far with everything else. This was paired with a chocolatey velvety Spanish red. An excellent pairing, smooth and supple.
Dessert was baked apple with what I think was a dill sauce (or fennel?). The sauce was a bit vegetal for me, the apple was well cooked and paired nicely with the meringue and madeline like cake. The jellies seemed incongruous, especially texture wise since they were firm. Despite good components, the whole dish didn’t feel cohesive. A very generous cheese board next (I think they may have doubled up for us kindly), and a supreme selection at that. A dry strong cheddar, soft goat’s and rich double cream soft cow’s milk, plus a blue. Paired well with a light chenin and richer raisin-filled Madeira. We were even brought some churros and a heavenly pineapple “cheesecake” dip to finish everything off.
In summary a fantastic meal, excellent value in a beautiful setting there wasn’t much to fault. The staff were all efficient, relaxed and friendly too. This may in fact be my favourite Atherton restaurant meal so far including Pollen Street social, the more relaxed atmosphere and slightly more modern food ethos really appealed to me. I’m looking forward to coming back for dinner!