We’ve been massive fans of Nuno Mendes’ Viajante for a few years now and each time we go we’re blown away by his cooking. And this time was no different.
We recently chose Viajante as the best restaurant experience of 2012 and rightfully so. The cooking at Viajante is highly innovative, skilled and tasteful. Having eaten at many top restaurants in the world we would rank Viajante up there with the best of them.
Those who’re willing to take a risk will be rewarded by a visit to Viajante. Having said that Viajante is not for all. If you prefer tried and tested classical dishes then stay clear because you won’t find them at Viajante. Given the amount of culinary experimentation that goes on at Viajante, there are bound to be some less successful dishes. However, when Nuno Mendes get’s it right (and he get’s it right about 80-90% of the time) he produces truly spectacular art on a plate.
The interior at Viajante is somewhat understated and mute. The dining room is consists of two different areas, one with direct view of the open kitchen area where the chefs practise their culinary magic. For those that are into their cocktails and want to have a drink at the bar before or after eating there is a separate bar in the same hotel, opposite Viajante, where they serve some of the best cocktails in London…you have to try the Martell Blazer. Not only is the preparation spectacular, but the taste of that cocktail is phenomenal.
Viajante means traveller in Portuguese and the theme of virtually travelling to the cuisines of different countries around the world (Thai, Japanese, Iberian, etc.) is enhanced by the background music which plays music from around the world.
This time we visited Viajante during the Christmas & New-Year holidays. The restaurant offered a special 7 course tasting menu to celebrate this occasion, which consisted of:
- Appetiser of Thai Explosion III – soft boiled egg and chicken paste in between crispy chicken skin (10/10)
- Appetiser of Amaranth with sorrel (9/10)
- Appetiser of Carrot with horseradish (8.5/10)
- Appetiser Gordal olive soup (8.5/10)
- Appetiser potato with yeast and olive bread (9/10)
- Bread and butter (9.5/10)
- First course: Langoustine with buttermilk and frozen pine (9/10)
- Second course: Sea bass with vanilla and yuba (9/10)
- Third course: Cod and tripe with unions, parsley and potatoes (10/10)…give me a whole bucket of this please
- Fourth course: Salsify with spruce bark and black truffle (8.5/10)
- Fifth course: Iberico presa with fermented squash (9.5/10)
- Sixth course: Wood pigeon with cep mushroom and chestnuts (9.5/10)
- Pre-dessert / palate cleanser of Cucumber with reduced milk sorbet (10/10)
- Seventh course: Milk dessert (10/10)…can I have a bucket of this as well please!
- Petits Fours – frozen olive paste and chocolate truffles (9/10)
As with previous visits, we found that the dishes at Viajante were very creative and tasty and some of them carried a real wow-I can’t help but focus on what’s going on in my mouth-factor. This is what you’re looking for in a Michelin star restaurant and Viajante delivers in spade. Having visited Viajante multiple times now, I honestly don’t understand how food critic Jay Rayner didn’t like his dining experience when he visited Viajante.
The service at Viajante was exemplary as always (comparable to 2 and 3 Michelin star experiences elsewhere), but not too overbearing and certainly not too stuffy (which I personally detest with a passion). What also struck me was that several of the sous chefs presented the dishes in addition to Nuno Mendes himself, which I thought was a really nice touch (it says a lot about what kind of a boss and Nuno is).
The total bill at Viajante came to £160 (incl. service charge, 2 cocktails 1 mocktail and 1 glass of wine), which is very reasonable given the amount and quality of dishes.
Overall rating for Viajante: 9/10 (The overall rating is based on quality of cooking, produce, ambiance and price)