Thanks to chefs like Nuno Mendes, Portuguese food is now getting an opportunity to shine, with eateries showcasing this much forgotten cuisine all over London. Bar Douro is the latest noteworthy Portuguese restaurant to open, finding a cosy home in the Flat Iron Square foodie hub.
I went along with a fellow food-obsessed friend to try out their speciality dishes. The restaurant is relaxed and atmospheric, with bar seats offering a view of the small kitchen. The blue and white patterned tiles reminded me instantly of days wandering round Lisbon’s pretty streets. Owner Max Graham was previously running supper clubs around London with Head Chef Tiago Santos. Max’s family have been creating Churchill’s Port in the Douro area of Portugal for centuries and his passion for Portuguese wine is evident from the thoughtful wine list.
We were treated to a feast of the best dishes from the menu, including delicacies like Croquetes de Alheira and Octopus with sweet potato. The food was vibrant both in flavour and presentation. I loved the Chanfana rolls, bite-sized pieces of milk-fed lamb with a deliciously fragrant herb sauce. For something a little more decadent try the Roast suckling pig with homemade crisps, which is prepared and cooked to perfection with caramelised baby carrots and fresh orange. Not all the dishes worked… Bacalhau a Bras (Salted cod with scrambled eggs and chips) was bland and uninteresting, and sadly our Octopus tenticle arrived so charred it overwhelmed the subtle flavour of the seafood.
I’ve never known much about Portuguese desserts, partly because I’m usually too full from main course to make it that far down the menu. At Bar Douro we were presented with three sweet plates, so I had a quick, and tasty lesson in this country’s pastry traditions. A delicate Abade de Priscos (Portuguese Bacon Pudding) was paired with wonderfully contrasting citrus sorbet and fresh orange. The second dessert, Bar de camelo was very sweet but delicious, made from condensed milk and topped with ice-cream and a shard of chocolate. And don’t leave without trying the fresh-out-the-oven Pastel de nata with cinnamon ice-cream, which works very well with a glass of the Churchill’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port.
It is lovely to see the arrival of new food ventures in South London and Bar Douro does a wonderful job of showcasing the best of Portuguese food and wine.
More information and book a table at Bar Douro here.