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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Viajante, Bethnal Green



















My minder, Warren, offers an impromptu reccie of old Bethnal Green Town Hall. Ushered along echoey, penumbral corridors, via the empty ballroom where I swear I hear a phantom orchestra begin the beguine, I’m keen to inspect one of the bedrooms, a dimly lit suite at the posh new hotel that now inhabits this grandiose Edwardian pile. Quasi-deserted monoliths at midnight spook me so I have one eye on the groovy bedroom with its iconic retro furnishings, the other on its door, convinced an axe will suddenly shatter it to a cry of ‘Here’s Johnny!’ What I do take a Shining to are Warren’s other-worldly mixes. His normal domain, you see, is behind the handsome bar at Viajante, this summer’s hot foodie ticket. Presently, its agreeable Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes joins us for a nightcap. Viajante’s stand-alone cocktail lounge, across the corridor from his knockout restaurant, is a destination in its own right, a tobacco tone den as edible as Mendes’s bar snacks, themselves. Hooverable halibut spicy tacos and a Stilton cheeseburger and vanilla caramelised onions in brioche is a last supper death row inmates would kill for. À propos of lethal injections, I’d willingly mainline Viajante’s Sazerac, at £7.50, half the price of similar fit-for-purpose poison in poncier Mayfair piles. Airmail; Martinez; Hanky Panky: no matter the call, what arrives, in quirky vintage stemware, is irreproachable. ‘Come back soon,’ urges Nuno. Amigo, I’d move in, if you'd only promise to exorcise room 237!
8 Patriot Square E2 7871 0461 www.viajante.co.uk