Portuguese food and wine brings up fond memories. My relationship with olives turned drastically from hate to love when I was in Lisbon! For some reason (probably because of olives and good wine), I always find Portuguese restaurants charming in some way.
In fact, one of my personal favourite restaurants (ever) is in Lisbon: Tapisco, Lisbon: The Best of Modern Portuguese Fine Dining
Portuguese cuisine in a cozy wine bar setting
Back in London, I went to Bar Douro on a date night on Friday. They are not really serving traditional or classic Portuguese food. Instead, they serve small tapas-style sharing dishes with a modern take. It was my kind of place. You know, the places where you can try a good variety of meticulously prepared dishes, with the vibe you’d expect of a hip spot in the centre of London. Oh, plus, they do take bookings.
In fact, it’s located right next to Flat Iron Square – a food market place buzzing with life itself.
The restaurant is quite small and cozy. The main dining area is bar seating, which I personally love when we’re just two people. It’s intimate and I love watching the chefs cook passionately.
Bar Douro a small but impressive menu. I would recommend almost every dish we had! I suppose the only downside is that it didn’t seem very vegetarian-friendly. Of course they had vegetarian dishes, but they didn’t seem ‘main course’-enough. That didn’t matter to me though.
Olives, olive oil and bread *must order*
With a Portuguese meal, ordering Bar Douro’s olives, olive oil and bread is mandatory to begin with. These items are usually uninteresting plates to snack on while waiting… but these ones did stand out. The olives were so juicy, tasty and had a spicy kick. The olive oil was extremely flavourful. The bread was perfect.
Milho Frito / Crispy Polenta – GBP 4
From their ‘snacks’ section, we ordered the crispy polenta and croquetes. The bed of fermented red pepper sauce tasted quite unique. But otherwise, I preferred the croquetes which followed…
Croquetes de Alheira – GBP 5
These croquetes were filled with smoked Portuguese sausage. They were everything you’d want and imagine of great croquetes! They were Dario’s favourite dish of the night, but I was more impressed with the main dishes of the night.
(Plus, I actually had the best ever croquettes of my life at Fiskebar in Antwerp, and it’s hard to beat those)
Tomatoes with white port vinaigrette – GBP 6 *must order*
This sounded like a very regular tomato salad, but I absolutely loved it. The vinaigrette had a tasty tart flavour. But most importantly, the tomatoes were insanely fresh and flavourful. The different types really stood out from each other.
Octopus with sweet potato – GBP 12 *must order*
We almost never fail to order octopus whenever we dine at Portuguese restaurants (Spanish ones too…). This dish lived up to our high expectations, as the octopus was cooked to perfection, i.e. it had a super tender texture, with crispy grilled exterior.
What I personally loved even more, was the sweet potato. They use both a creamy sweet potato mash, and thin crispy sweet potato ‘crisps’. The textural contrast REALLY worked.
Prego no prato / Onglet steak with confit egg – GBP 12 *must order*
We were torn between the dishes in the meat/grill section. When the waitress recommended this dish, she alluded to the beef being “super flavourful” and I think Dario was sold. I hesitated because she also said the meat was “super lean” – which to me, reads “dry”… We went with her recommendation anyway and I was proven completely wrong. And that’s why this was definitely the most memorable dish of the night for me.
The onglet steak did indeed have an intense beef flavour, which you could smell and taste prominently. What was so surprising was that, it was cooked perfectly to medium rare, it was very lean, but also very tender, soft and juicy. I didn’t even know that this combination was possible in steaks. I always go for super fatty cuts just so that they are tender, juicy and flavourful!
Portuguese Pastel de Nata with Cinnamon Ice cream and crumble – GBP 4
The food had been so good up to here, we had to give their desserts a try. Their dessert menu was simple and so we went with the pastel de nata. Honestly, the pastel de nata itself was pretty average. Instead, the cinnamon ice cream and crumble really stole the show.
Portuguese food in wine bar setting for date nights and great flavours
We walked out of the restaurant agreeing that it was one of the best meals we’ve had in London for a while! On top of the delicious Portuguese food, we loved the ambience for striking the balance between nice and laid back. At the same time, the dishes was neither overly complicated nor typical. So it’s definitely one I’ll be adding to my recommendation lists in London.
85B Southwark Bridge Rd,
London SE1 0NQ
Price per person: £25-30, without drinks