Looking for that elusive spark at Corner Room

I really wanted to love Corner Room.

Corner Room is combining flavours in a creative and innovative way. It is affordable(ish). It is the brainchild of a hot chef. The staff persons are sweet and accommodating. But I just liked it. It was a bummer.

Sure, the food at Corner Room is visually gorgeous. Total food porn, made and laid for the blogosphere. And it is cool that Corner Room is serving beautiful food at reasonable prices. But the food also kind of felt like (very classy) pornography in that it seemed overly focused on visual appeal, and the soul and funk and joy got lost somewhere along the way. Someone, somewhere else, was having an orgasm, but it was not me, and it was not in my mouth. (I think I have lost control of this metaphor. It is time to move on.)

Some of the dishes worked. I loved my squid with new potatoes and fennel starter (£7) featuring grilled, scored, caramelized squid, beautifully complemented by the aniseed of the braised fennel, sweet new potatoes, and rich funky squid ink. A lovely textural element was added to the plate by delicate fried leeks(?) (I’m guessing here) and samphire.

Friend F hit the jackpot with his Iberico pork and Portuguese bread pudding (£14), the pork cooked sous vide so it retained a dangerous, deep oxblood-red colour. The meat was meltingly tender, punchy with flavour, and brilliantly paired with a spiced, crisp bread pudding and sweet glazed carrots. If every dish had the soul, passion and sheer oomph of this showpiece I would set up camp outside of Corner Room so that I could eat there every day.

My main course, lamb rump with baby vegetables and salsa verde (£13) was also an elegant and well-balanced dish, although not memorable like the pork.

Other dishes were less successful. Although it looked beautiful, F’s mackerel with melon, pistachio, and gooseberry granita starter (£7) didn’t feel cohesive; the granita was watery and none of the various elements seemed persuaded that they wanted to cohabitate on the same plate.

The heirloom tomatoes with strawberries and mozzarella starter (£7) were nice, but a bit too reminiscent of a dish one might have at a middle class garden party. And friend B was underwhelmed by her brill with artichokes and pancetta main (£14).

The real disappointment, however, was friend I-S’s vegetarian main (“our carrots and cauliflower”, £10). Sorry Corner Room, but this dish seemed like a throwaway. It read like a side dish, and it wasn’t well executed – the carrots were hard and the cauliflower purée insipid. The plate was beautiful, but I wish more thought had been given to making a vegetarian dish with sex appeal and less to plating. I-S was hungry and upset. “This is poor,” she said.

Corner Room did deliver on desserts (each £5). “Blueberries with goats cheese caramel, brioche, and shiso” was a fun savoury dessert. I loved my “pineapple with caramelised fennel and smoked pastry”, and I-S’s “dark chocolate with peanut butter ice cream” partially redeemed the carrot/cauliflower debacle.

So do I recommend Corner Room? Yeah, sure. It’s good. But I didn’t think as I walked out the door, “I am dying to tell all my friends about this delicious meal. I want to climb out my window so I can trumpet Corner Room’s awesomeness from my shitty fire escape and plan my next visit so I can try everything else on the menu.” And isn’t that what every great restaurant hopes to inspire?

The Upshot

Corner Room

Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF

Phone: None

Website: It exists, but you can’t make bookings.

Price per person: £39 (including wine and service charge)

The verdict: Worth a go

Corner Room on Urbanspoon

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