I never need an excuse to visit the Typing Room. Last year I went with a friend and tucked into the glorious seven course tasting menu. Each dish was as inventive as the one before, and dazzlingly good looking. Along with the sexy welcome snacks, and odd-sounding ingredients (yeasted cauliflower may not at first seem that appealing) each mouthful was culinary heaven. It also helps that although the fantastic staff are relaxed, knowledgeable, and have a huge smile on their faces all the time, while still being perfectly attentive. The gentle hum of soul classics spill out of the speakers, leading to an atmosphere of brilliant effortlessness. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Going back to a place where the benchmark has been set so high can be a little scary. What if it doesn’t match up to that perfect, glowing memory? With that in mind, I booked in for a one-night-only affair, organised as part of the ‘dual year’ of Mexico in the UK, and the UK in Mexico. Lee Westcott had been on an exchange programme, visiting lauded Mexican chef Guillermo González Beristáin in Monterrey to swap ideas, techniques, ingredients and passion to come up with a magical Anglo-Mexican night of amazing food.
As we sat down to Typing Room’s customary ‘snacks’ of crispy fish skin - a salty, crunchy treat with a creamy, rich salt cod brandade spotted with dill oyster emulsion, the good vibes came flooding back. Shortly after came the first Mexican element - avocado and chilorio tart full of familiar Mexican flavours but with the richest, most vibrant intensity. The warming spice, the deeply creamy and earthy avocado brought on a flood of delight.
Hearteningly, a wine from my native Devon made an appearance for the first course - who’d have thunk it? A Devonian wine appearing on an Anglo-Mexican tasting menu in London. The Crab, cucumber, kombu and lime was a dish of sheer perfection, with flakes of white crab meat rubbing up against tiny pickly cucumber balls, the occasional nodule of lime popping up to say hi and a surprise crunch of puffed wild rice. The effect of the whole, with the umami kombu jelly sheet resting over the top, was of some kind of wizardry. It bizarrely made me think of Indian flavours – was it the lime, cucumber and puffed rice? I have written Genius (actually underlined twice) in my notes, so it must have been good.