I made the booking for Viajante two months in advance, something that I don't do often. Midway through that two months, the Michelin man came out with the 2011 Edition and they were awarded one star. Now I really couldn’t wait for the day to arrive.
The day finally arrived and off I went excitedly with my usual foodie partner in crime. We had a central table which gave us excellent views of the kitchen and opted for the 6 course tasting menu £50 per head.
We started with an amuse bouche known as Thai Explosion. A savoury bite of confit chicken mousse, quail's egg & lemon grass & coconut spices between two crispy-thin chicken skin, it was truly an explosion of the most orgasmic experience of flavours and textures.
Bread and Butter
Next came the customary bread and butter but these were no ordinary bread and butter. We were served two versions of whipped butter. One being brown butter with crispy chicken skin, Iberico ham and with scatterings of purple potato powder dust; the second was black pudding butter with potato skins. They were both savoury delights with melt-in-your-mouth textures that belie its richness.
Scallops with carrot, mustard and watercress oil
A refreshingly light and interesting dish. Slices of scallops that blend harmoniously with the carrots and watercress oil. The mustard came in the form of snow powder which added a tangy icy cold sensation that tantalises the tongue.
Charred leeks, hazelnut milk skin
This had a slight Chinese resemblance to it with the hazelnut milk skin; it reminded me of the taste of tofu skin. The charred leeks give a rustic earthiness to the delicate refinement of the hazelnut milk skin.
Braised salmon skin and aubergine
Braised salmon with skin that was luminously translucent, with aubergine, enoki mushrooms and salmon roe surrounded by a river of Agedashi broth. A very delicately exquisite dish that tasted like it came straight out of Japan. It was great but I wasn’t expecting a Japanese dish in a non-Japanese cuisine?
Sea bass toast, garlic kale and S.Jorge
Such an artist’s painting of sea bass toast, with various colours of garlic kale and condiments. A thin slab of S. Jorge cheese being the finishing touch, truly a visual feast for the eyes. I really love the skin toast which adds a crispy texture to the sea bass and the garlic kale adds a mineral taste. Something that I have never tasted or expected. This was my least favourite of the tasting menu.
Duck with beetroot and pistachio
The final meat dish before we moved onto dessert. Duck served with crushed pistachio nut and an array of various coloured beetroot. I really like the duck and pistachio pairing; I think that they complimented each other well.
Frozen maple panacotta, shiso granite with green apple
One of the highlights, the acidity of green apple and almost medicinal taste of shiso leaves cutting through the creamy panacotta and marshmallows. This was a mixture of some really simple ingredients that was another burst of tangy & citric delight, a different but wonderful palate cleanser. Goes to show that not every palate cleanser has to be predominantly vanilla or lemon based.
Sea buckthorn with burnt meringue and yoghurt sorbet
Another winner again in my books! You have Italian meringue with yoghurt sorbet and sea buckthorn. Again it is a mixture of different levels of texture which plays happy havoc with the tongue.
Finally it was near the end with a trio of petit fours.
Catalan cream that was the mildest in flavour of the trio. We moved onto the scoop of cinnamon, orange and kumquat meringue/marshmallow and finish off with the Cepe mushroom truffle.
I really enjoyed the tasting menu. I didn’t know what to expect and what I got was natural ingredients with some that I have never seen or expected to be used to create dishes that was though filling, felt light and almost healthy. You usually leave feeling almost like roly-poly by the end of a tasting menu but this did not do that.
Less successful were some of the wine pairings as noted by my foodie partner in crime. It was such a relaxing lunch as the kitchen was relaxed, everything was in sync and there was even music being played in the kitchen. It almost feel like you were having a leisurely lunch in the comfort of your home.
Viajante in five words – provoking, refreshing, different, exquisite, delicate.
This was the end of the tasting menu. Viajante is one place that I will come back to again
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Viajante, Patriot Square, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9www.viajante.co.uk