Bar Douro is a bit hidden away in a railway arch off Flat Iron Square, but once inside, the traditional Portuguese tiled bar (above) is stunning, which lead me to expect authentic Portuguese food and wine – I was not disappointed.
Oli had arrived slightly ahead of me and had a bottle of Meio Quijo Douro, open and waiting. The restaurant is owned by Max Graham of the Graham’s Port dynasty. This hearty Douro red is from the family estate and very drinkable at £23 per bottle. The bar itself, is named after Douro, the wine region famous for port, so this is exactly the right thing to drink.
We ordered from the 3 course Lunch Combo Menu, which costs £11.50 – drinks are extra, but the price is good for London.
I was immediately taken by the Bacalhau (Bacalao) dishes and ordered Pataniscas de Bacalhau (salt cod fritters). These were perfect – a delicious fluffy mixture of salt cod, flour, eggs, onions and parsley, deep fried, with a spicy sauce on the side.
Oli had the beautifully presented Croquetes de Alheira – crispy croquetas containing smokey garlic Alheira sausage (a Portuguese Jewish creation, containing no pork) and served with a little lemon mayonnaise.
I had the second salt cod dish on the menu too, Bacalhau à Brás – shredded salt cod with fried onions and potatoes, bound together with eggs and garnished with sliced olives and chopped parsley. This was quite a big plateful and extremely satisfying.
Oli ordered Braised Pork cheek with Turnip Top Salsa Verde. The cheeks were melt in the mouth tender and perfect with the sauce.
hungry greedy boys, we went off piste in order to try the restaurant’s signature dish – Octopus (polvo) with sweet potato. By this time, we’d had a couple of bottles of wine and it was a quiet day, so we got talking with all the staff. Our chef Joderick came over to chat to us and we were discussing equivalent words and expressions between Spanish and Portuguese – the two languages are both derived from Vulgar Latin and have many words in common, but I digress. Joderick described the process of cooking the octopus – he said he always freezes the polvo beforehand to break down the tissue and make it tender. He went on to say he steams the defrosted octopus for 12 hours before charring briefly and serving. This was definitely one of the best cooked octopuses I’ve ever had – slightly caramelised and smokey from the griddle on the outside and mouthwateringly tender in the middle.
For pudding, I had Portugal’s well known Pastel de Nata (custard tart) – this was every bit as good as the famous tarts made by Lisboa on Goldbourne Road and comes with cinnamon ice cream on the side. Oli had a waffer thin taste, before going off to choose the port.
We were unable to resist the Churchill’s Port Flight, a taster of 3 family ports – White Port (normally an aperitif), a 10 Year Old Tawny and a Late Bottled Vintage. Churchill’s was founded in 1981 by John Graham, who wanted to create a new family port with it’s own individual style – it is named after his wife, Caroline Churchill.
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch here and will definitely go back. The staff were exceptionally friendly and the food was delicious.