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Viajante [London]

Couldn't find a main post for Viajante and thought it more than merited its own - as I'm sure loads of you have been by now!

I won't describe every dish at length as that's more than amply done elsewhere...but firstly just to counter some comments on t'other blogs…

I thought the room was gorgeous. Some have described it as rather too cool for school mismatched seats end trendy scandi chic..I guess we had the benefit of low lighting and it being the evening, but I thought it was lovely.

No, you don't get the menu till the end, but they do tell you what each dish is as it's served.

We had the paired wines option and a) it was all wines (no teas, or beer) and b) it was ridiculously generous. We often had 3 glasses lined up because it was coming so thick and fast!

In fact, that would be my only criticism. Pace. We had the 9 course tasting menu (lord knows how people cope with 12), and we often only had a few minutes between courses. Yes, they're each small, but still. Plus given every dish has a paired wine, I was actually getting borderline stressed about things like loo breaks! In fairness, we did ask them at one point to slow down, and they did, but.

That aside, everything was glorious. Best looking, dressed and informed staff who were all incredibly sweet. Top points for speed of first drink on table and then amuses bouches. And Mendes himself, well, we had the table right by the pass and watching him was like one of those 'what would Buddha do' games...He was a deeply serious yet serene presence by the pass, keeping everyone on their toes, measured, detailed, yet encouraging. He is clearly a master yet was so humble when he came over to say hello. The reason he did was to apologise for a 'bang' in the kitchen (we hadn't heard one) which meant there was a gap in the courses (of 10 minutes max!) so he gave us another free course while we waited of langoustine wrapped in lardo and grilled on a rosemary skewer.

So, to the meal.

Amuses bouches were the Thai Explosion (as gorgeous as mentioned elsewhere) and homebaked bread with whipped butter flavoured with chicken skin.

Cured lobster with ‘sashimi’ which was actually watermelon (have no idea how he treats the fruit to get the texture of tuna), served with Pewsey Vale ‘Contours’ Reisling 2004, Eden Valley.

Tomatoes, strawberries and water (I loved this, himself found it a bit girlie, but the tomato water was like the very essence of the fruit, the mozzarella was the best I’ve had, the strawberry granita avoided being cloying), served with Maculan Pino and Toi 2009, Breganze, Italy.

Charred leeks, white asparagus, hazelnuts and milk skin (my favourite bit of this was the grey cream it was served with, made of the sweet leek char), served with Birgit Eichinger ‘Strasse Hassel’ Gruner Veitliner 2009, Kamptal (this was gorgeous fyi!)

Braised salmon skin and fried aubergine (bit meh, loved the skin though), served with Domaine de Beaurenard, 2008, Chateauneuf du Pape (the first white ‘pape’ I’ve had, was beautifully honeyed and intense).

Sea bass toast, confit yolk and potato (one of my favourites of the evening, still cannot get over the skill to slow cook a single yolk and keep it intact and liftable but still runny inside, the potato was delicate slivers, the toast were slices of rye glued to the fish), served with David Traeger ‘Maranoa’ Verdelho 2008, Victoria.

Venison, berries and mushrooms (oh my days, this was gorgeous, the meat was the most beautifully cooked piece I’ve ever had, done sous vide then flash grilled I guess, served with brambles which I saw Mendes place with tweezers, girolles, loveliness), served with Clos Ouvert, Huaso 2008, Chile. Incidentally, this is when we asked them to slow down, went out for a fag (sue me) and when we came back our glasses had been topped up, which is sweet.

Squab, beetroot yoghurt and pistachio praline (another stunner, though the squab may have been just a teensy bit tough), served with Howard Park ‘Leston’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Margaret River.

Green tea and shiso (a wonderful granite, with a bit of salt I think as well, worked a treat).

Blueberries, goat’s curd, lemon thyme and caramel (lovely, but I still have an issue with mostly savoury sweets…), served with a sweet wine called ‘Quintessence’, don’t have it noted, but it was ecstasy. Almost literally.

Pannacotta ice cream, crumbled oats, hazelnuts, thai basil and apple (this was better, the apple in particular which again I think had the benefit of sous vide to extract its inner appliness, but I was soooo full by this point and left half!), served with Maculan ‘Torcolato’ 2006, Breganze.

And then petits fours – chocolate ‘truffles’ which were, yes, you guessed it, actually flavoured with mushroom.

I had just the best night. It’s event dining – stimulating both to the palate and the brain – but unlike Fat Duck, I actually enjoyed it as much as I would a more ‘normal’ restaurant. It’s experimental, yes, but in the interests of flavour, not scientific breakthroughs. And then as a restaurant, well, you feel everyone CARES – from Mendes himself stood there with his tweezers at the ready, to his waiting staff. And we therefore felt cared for.

Love it. Can’t wait for the excuse to go back! Just this time I’ll tell them in advance to slow down a touch…

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  1. Been 3 times -- first two on summer menu which was incredible, and sort of a disappointment the last time I went. The food was always excellent, but because I don't eat pork or shellfish I definitely enjoyed it more the first times because they had great alternatives, but the last time didn't enjoy 3 fish courses!

    Wow, bad prose!!!

    1. I heart Nuno and Viajante certainly meets expectations. The bar is also worth a visit if you can spare the time and belly space (great for lunchese with the crab banh mi and fish tacos).

      I last went in November at lunch and the pace then was perhaps a little slow. Having said that, a long lunch is always a luxury.

      With regards to the food restrictions - they are normally able to accommodate if you let them know in advance.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JamTam

        Oh absolutely -- they are marvelous with the restrictions. I don't eat pork, shellfish, and my girlfriend doesn't eat fish at all. They've always been great, but last time I went they served 3 fish courses as the 'mains' which was a bit overkill.

        I think that is my favorite restaurant in London for that kind of thing -- plus I love that Nuno is so approachable and chats w/everyone. A lot of chefs at that level are not very keen on interrupting their service to talk to some annoying customers!!!

      2. I'm taking Miss Souljacker to Viajante for her birthday next week, can't wait! I hope the pacing isn't too hectic, was thinking we would try to fit in 9 courses.

        1 Reply
        1. re: souljacker

          The pacing is pretty lazy, actually.

          My most leisurely meal there took around 3+ hours?

        2. Was there on Friday night for the 12 course dinner with wine pairing. Very unique and over all lovely experience. I highly recommend both, the 12 courses (especially for first timers) and the wine pairing. Could not agree with you more helen b, 'stimulating to the palate and the brain' is the perfect description.

          I also found the room beautiful, comfortable and crisp without being stuffy. We had a table at the front next to the kitchen which allowed us to watch our dishes being skilfully and very smoothly prepared. On many occasions we caught Mendes sneaking a (curious? hopeful? cringing?) eye our way as we took our first bites. The attention to detail almost goes without being said for this kind of place however the care surrounding our entire experience made it an extremely special evening.

          Due to poor weather and snow on Friday I spent over 3 hours on the Southeastern line in delays travelling from Kent to London to make it Viajante and I would do it all again tomorrow to go back. And if denied 12 courses, I'd happily sacrifice myself and endure the journey on a body heated only, schizophrenic train ('now terminating in Dartford instead of London') solely for the Langoustine cooked over rosemary and lardo. The one course meant to be eaten by hand and it would be a crime not to.

          3 Replies
          1. re: morreisshey

            Not much to add to the comprehensive reports above but after finally getting round to going on Sunday Viajante absolutely blew me away. Stunning cooking and I enjoyed every bite which is a complete rarity for that sort of food.

            If you are going as a pair it is worth asking for the table in front of the kitchen - we saw every dish being plated which was fascinating and it surprised me just how calm they were.

            1. re: ManInTransit

              glad we are going to pick this place for our first evening in London...sounds great

              manintransit: what a day yesterday for the end of the transfer window

              1. re: Dapuma

                True - although very little business done that I cared about directly!

                Glad you've picked Viajante - it's an awesome place, which I enjoyed as much as 2 and 3* cooking. If you book maybe ask for table that faces the kitchen as for me the novelty of watching them plate up doesn't ever wear off.

          2. Looking on their website today, looks like they are capitalising on that star they received and have pushed the prices up somewhat. Nearly £100 a head now for the 6 course lunch

            5 Replies
            1. re: pj26

              thats with wine tho right? how much did it used to be

              1. re: t_g

                Yes that includes wine - used to be £35 for the 6 course and £25 for the wine pairing.

                1. re: pj26

                  I'm pretty sure they bumped it to the current prices before the Michelin results came out though.

                  1. re: ManInTransit

                    i just got an email from them about the reservation now they are doing 6 course meals and then they also have a 12 course if you call ahead

                    seems like they phased out the 9 course...can anyone else confirm?

                    How happy are you about that result yesterday manin transit - time for the crouch robot dance heh

                    1. re: Dapuma

                      The website confirms the elimination of the 9-course menu.

            2. Hi
              I was wondering if anyone could tell me how lunch differs from dinner. Is it just the number of courses or is the food different?
              Thanks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: olly78

                The courses will be different. The menu is constantly evolving a course at a time and some of the dishes on the bigger menus at lunch will be served at dinner but there is also a difference. A Venn diagram of menus if you will.
                When we asked the maitre'd said if you were eating there twice in quick succession you should let them know and they'd make sure you weren't served the same dishes twice but I think if you were having all 12 that wouldn't be possible.