Bethnal Green’s elegant Town Hall Hotel has seen a number of restaurants come and go since its 2010 opening. For whatever reason, nothing seemed to stick around for long. Then in early 2019, chefs Rafael Cagali and Paulo Airaudo (from Brazil and Argentina respectively) decided to bring something new to the table – quite literally. Da Terra (translation: ‘from the ground’) offers diners Latin American and Italian-inspired tasting menus, with each pint-sized dish served in playfully innovative fashion. Town Hall Hotel’s latest dining venture has hit the spot, with Da Terra being awarded a Michelin star just eight months after opening.
Critically acclaimed for its sensitive restoration, Town Hall Hotel effortlessly merges elegant Art Deco with modern finesse, making it something of a dream venue for any restaurateur. Given the rest of the hotel’s stylish interiors – think stained glass windows, marble floors and sweeping staircases paired with mid-century furniture and industrial lighting – Da Terra keeps it simple with soft, contemporary grey and teak wood. Pretty dried flowers are a minimalist touch on each table, while large abstract paintings by local artists add a splash of east London edge.
Cagali and Airaudo met while working at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant in 2011 before parting ways to garner experience in Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe. This shared background in fine dining and Blumenthal’s famously left-wing approach to cooking shows in Da Terra’s eight-and 12-course menus. Each dish is a creative, unexpectedly playful marvel. It’s not every day a plastic shark and Lego man appear in a Michelin-starred dish. But when they do, in a bowl of black pebbles and oyster shells designed to resemble the seabed, they can’t help but raise a smile. A scallop mousse is disguised in two of the ‘pebbles’, and many of the dishes play on this concept of deception and delight. An air-light dish of Isle of Mull scallops with fennel and Granny Smith apples accompany the seabed dish, and other standout courses include a colourful panzanella salad with stracciatella and basil, and a doughnut-shaped English raspberry dessert with sorrel and pistachio. Delicate Latin American and Italian flavours are paired with British ingredients to create fresh, whimsical and unique dishes. Each one showcases the chefs’ creative flair and passion for the land and seas in a delicious and unexpected way.
In an area previously associated with white collar boxing and the Krays, Bethnal Green is enjoying a surprise revival as a cocktail bar haven. So, keeping up with the neighbours, Da Terra restaurant extends to the elegant bar area across the hall, offering a range of classic cocktails and signature creations. The excellent waiting staff will also happily take any arduous decision making completely off your hands if you feel so inclined. Ask for a New Fashioned – Brummell has no idea what makes it ‘new’ but it was definitely a highlight.
Short (eight courses) menu £80 per person. Long (12 courses) menu is £95 per person. Optional wine pairing is an additional £55 and £83 each respectively.
Excellent attention to detail and creative flavours abound – Da Terra is fine dining with a much-needed sense of fun.
Da Terra Restaurant at Town Hall Hotel, 8 Patriot Square, E2 9NF; daterra.co.uk