A few weeks ago I was in Puerto del Carmen; a resort town on the southeast coast of the Spanish island of Lanzarote. That’s right, not Portugal but, stick with me. Whilst tantalising my tastebuds across the fourth largest Canary Island, discovering the finest Canarian cuisine, it was a Portuguese chef who stole my palate (I spent half the week at this chef’s restaurant). A massive shoutout to chef and friend Andre Silva, the owner of Casual Seafood, an ever so modest name for an exquisite place to dine.
Since returning home, I’ve had the most stupendous cravings for polvo and vinho do Porto – thankfully that itch was well and truly scratched by none other than the Southwark small plate mecca, Bar Douro.
For the wine enthusiasts
It’s important not to get too confident in your understanding of Portuguese wines, as there is always more to discover. Bar Douro is a superb destination for wine enthusiasts, thanks to its extensive selection of Portugal’s finest wine treasures. From the refreshing Vinho Verde to the robust Alentejo reds, there is an array of flavours to explore, each one as delectable as the last.
What sets Bar Douro apart is its dedication to highlighting lesser-known Portuguese grape varieties. Whether you’re a newcomer or a long-time aficionado, this wine haven offers something for everyone. The staff here are both knowledgeable and passionate, eager to share their expertise and guide you on your wine journey. With their guidance, you’ll uncover new, exciting flavours and gain a deeper appreciation for Portugal’s rich wine culture.
Authentic Portuguese flavours
The menu at Bar Douro has seen a revival boasting a diverse selection of authentic Portuguese tapas, thoughtfully arranged into four distinct categories: snacks, garden, sea, and land. Regrettably, these plates are designed for sharing amongst companions. Nevertheless, the silver lining is that you can always request additional servings of your preferred dishes. Our amiable server graciously offered us her personal favourites, which we eagerly heeded and were rewarded with an exceptional gastronomic experience.
We began our culinary adventure with the Octopus Salad. The octopus was cooked to perfection with a delicate char and was presented on a fresh bed of greens. The salad was carefully drizzled with a zesty citrus dressing that offered a delightful medley of textures and flavours that thrilled our taste buds. With each bite, we were transported to a picturesque seaside café in Lisbon, where the warmth of the sun caressed our skin and the salty sea breeze whispered tales of adventure.
We enjoyed some Pataniscas de bacalhau (Salt cod fritters) along with the octopus. These doughnuts made of salt cod were light and fluffy, and they were served with a tangy tomato sauce. To enhance the flavour, we also had a P&T, which was a refreshing drink made of Churchill’s Dry White Port, Fever Tree Indian Tonic, Orange, and Mint.
A thorough taste of the sea began with dishes like Cavala alimada com escabeche, or marinated mackerel, which was refreshing and light. It paired well with the off-menu orange wine, which was equally light but bursting with flavour.
As the main dish was brought out, a strong scent of garlic filled the air, captivating everyone nearby. The people at nearby tables couldn’t help but stare at the blushing Gambas à Guilho. These garlic prawns brought back memories of watching sunsets on Costa Vicentina. We clashed for the last prawn head. The heads are a goldmine of flavour and are considered an absolute sin to waste, so slurp we did. We opted to lure our tastebuds from sea to land in favour of trying the Bife de cebolada & tutano, charred to perfection this onglet steak with onion & bone marrow sauce rounded off a meal we never wanted to end; thankfully there was still dessert to be had.
Portugal is known for its delectable seafood dishes, rice bowls, and abundant wine, but it’s also where I encountered my waistline’s nemesis, the pastel de nata. These Portuguese custard tarts are a classic for good reason. The custard wasn’t too sweet, and was paired perfectly with a scoop of simple cinnamon ice cream. Helped down via a glass of Churchill’s 20-year-old Tawny Port.
Bar Douro London Bridge is more than just a restaurant, it’s an exploration of the diverse and flavourful world of Portuguese cuisine and wine. Their extensive wine selection is sure to satisfy your taste buds, and their seasonal dishes and creative cocktails make it a standout destination for dining in London. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or simply seeking an unforgettable night out, Bar Douro will transport you to the sunny shores of Portugal with each delicious sip and bite.
To discover more, visit: bardouro.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of Bar Douro.