A new favourite has entered my ranks! Nestled in the far corners of a trendy little hub known as Flat Iron Square (located in London Bridge).Serving small delicacies and fine wining, while bringing authenticity and modernism from Portugal to London– let’s talk about Bar Douro.
Spearheaded by owner Max Graham along with head chef Tiago Santos, the dynamic ‘dois’ turned what was pop up restaurants, supper clubs and family run businesses into a bar of beauty and passion from the design right down to the food and drink.
Travelling here is no easy task for first timers. Accompanied by the magnificent Miss Windsor, we braved the ravaging rain and trekked the perilous backstreets searching desperately for our destination, so much so that even Google Maps was proving of little help – but we do this for you Foodventurers! And because we love it!
Finally reaching our destination, we enter a very azure and romantic bar setting. According to Flat Iron Square, the modern design, taken from classic Portuguese influences, is used to reflect the innovation and care that Bar Douro achieves (also shown through their very lovely and helpful staff). The size isn’t grand so you must pray that this place is not filled or fully reserved as it was on our arrival. Luckily they had a spare barrel for seating! Sounds bizarre but I thought it was a charming addition to their aim of authenticity and innovation.
Food time! And due to the reasonable tapas like prices, we sample a good variety of the menu selection.
Starting with snacks, the Pao com Chourico was a meat lover’s bread containing small chunks of tanged sausage meat in its leavened dome. Next came the salt cod fritters, a calm and lightly textured version of fishcakes still maintaining full flavour. The smoked Portuguese sausage was the first sign of the true qualities of Portuguese pork, with its earthy yet piquant savour encased in bread crumbed skin, topped with the lemony freshness in the mayonnaise sauce. Note that these were served on a wall tile – pretty cool!
I was very impressed with the sautéed beef with pickled vegetables. Already aware of the awesome taste of Portuguese beef from past travels to the country, this dish not only reminded me of the exceptional flavour – it was improved beyond its capabilities with the rich and beefy broth bathing the meat. The expertly pickled vegetables also added an exciting edge.
While I was loving every mouthful from this food haven so far, I couldn’t help but notice the slight pain in my back and backside as my tall self was awkwardly seated at our backless barrel seats… the bar stools, overlooking the chefs at work, were starting to look pretty good (though also backless).
For the mains, my salt cod hash concocted what was a filling meal of comforting and staple flavours, while the roast pork in my sandwich still donned the flavour of well-fed swine. The Serra cheese oozing on top with its creamy texture.
However the true winner for ‘best use of pig’ goes to Miss Windsor’s suckling pig! Procured from Minho in Northern Portugal, the meat melts in the mouth bringing serene yet sensational taste to the tonsils, while the leathery, brackish skin complemented the flavoursome chew as if the pig received skin care before the cleaver.
When it came to entertaining our sweet tooth, obviously we would choose Portugal’s traditional Pastel de nata, which was as you would hope, a sweet and creamy egginess cupped in a flaky pastry, working well with the cinnamon ice cream. Don’t ask me how but we accidentally ordered the egg yolk pudding, a delightful surprise of what seemed like a congealed lemon mousse cake, very refreshing.
We also ordered the caramel mousse, which easily made the top ten in my dessert list! Even when first presented to us we were already wowing the vivid butterscotch colours and mouth-watering textures of mousse and fondant sprinkled with nuts. Within seconds of eating you can taste the labour and genius that has gone into this pudding. It starts off as a dreamy sugar rush before pictures start to form in your head and on your tongue. For me it was a lovechild of toffee popcorn and Toffifee candies creamed together to make a pool of caramelised heaven.
So as you can see, the food was amazing, the bar vibe was lovely, the experience was memorable and Nandos is history.
It took two visits for us to sample these dishes – you’re mad if you thought we ate all this in one go!
And we would certainly go again!