Of all the hot, hip and happening places to hang out in Old Street it seems that Floripa is the most happening. Conveniently close to the tube station, this Brazilian restaurant-bar is spacious, colourful and characterful with a buzzy atmosphere. The venue has such an exotic beachy vibe, it is easy to forget you are in London.
“Floripa is the nickname of a Balearic style city-island off the coast of Brazil, the short form of the beautiful and unique flower of Ipanema and a brand new venue in Shoreditch where Brazil and London come together in a hedonistic bohemian cultural fusion. The aim is to take the classic elements of Brazilian cuisine and remix them, take the best of London’s incredible music scene and re-cook it and take a South American beach bar and re-present cocktails sipped on the cabanas of Ipanema and Florianopolis.”
Our waitress was absolutely lovely and very chatty, she helpfully explained the whole menu and advised us on her favourites. We followed her instructions almost exactly and ordered all the ‘must try’ dishes. A meal of authentic Brazilian recipes followed. Pao de Queijo (The King of Brazilian cheese breads) and Coxinha Tamales (a chicken appetiser in a samosa style crispy pastry) were filling starters. The bread arrived as doughy balls filled with a cheesy centre, they were a little too heavy for me, but for hungry diners these are perfect for pre-supper grazing. The chicken pastries were well seasoned, appetising crunchy parcels.
For main my well-travelled guest convinced me that the Picanha was worth sharing… this superior cut of sirloin meat is very popular in Brazil and is rarely found in London restaurants, making it a very special choice. The slabs of premium meat arrived on a rustic wooden board along with soft seasoned potato wedges and dressed green salad. I was alarmed initially by how rare the meat was, if you’ve read other steak reviews you’ll know I prefer my meat medium-well done… but knowing that the restaurant would cook it to its optimum, I ignored my girly pathetic tendencies and ate the rare cooked picanha. I was surprised to find I really enjoyed the lesser cooked meat – it had such a wonderful flavour it needed very little else, but if you do like spice try the red sauces that arrive alongside your steak.
There was very little room left for dessert but we just about managed to fit in a mouthful of Chocolate Brownie and Portugese Custard Tart, both delicious and suitably sweet. The warm hazelnut brownie is served with a contrasting dulce de leche ice cream and the traditional custard tart comes warm with summer berries … if I were to advise one, I’d say go for the tart.
I’m embarrassed to admit to the amount of cocktails we tried, each and every one was entirely different and unique. And I know I will be visiting in future just to sip these exquisite Brazilian cocktails again. Our absolute favourite was the Batilda de Salto, a coconut cauldron of sweet fruity cocktail that is shared between two people. I particularly enjoyed this drink as it tasted so unlike any cocktail I’ve had before, and was utterly drinkable and delicious. The inventive Gatinha cocktail with Ypioca Cachaca and a scoop of melting sorbet was also divine, very smooth and refreshing. The mixologists here are experienced and creative and seem happy to adapt and create whatever you desire, so don’t be afraid to go and chat to them about your preferences.
Floripa is an idyllic sunset circus of fabulous food and drink and is a must-try Shoreditch venue. There are so many niche bars and cafes in this area but to find an eatery which excels equally in both cocktails and food is a rare discovery. I will be revisiting to try the rest of the drinks list…
More information here: http://floripalondon.com/