If you take a 10-minute stroll west from London Bridge you’ll find Flat Iron Square, a casual food hub that hosts events and is dotted with interesting restaurants, bars and shops. Amongst them is Bar Douro, which serves some of the best Portuguese cuisine I have tasted outside of the capital.
It’s easy to forget you’re dining under the railway arches of London Bridge, when perched on a stall at the kitchen counter at Bar Douro. Though small, the restaurant is cleverly laid out, with high marble tables lining the windows and the length of the kitchen.
The menu isn’t large either, comprising 12 small plates designed for sharing. Before the food, however, it was the all-Portuguese wine list that we were more interested in browsing. We tasted two, a light and fruity Lagoalva Castelao-Touriga (bottle £28) from Tejo, followed by a slightly deeper Vale Da Mata (glass £7, bottle £36), from Lisbon. In the end, it was the more full-bodied Vale Da Mata that I would recommend.
With our glasses full, we turned to the food. First up were croquetes de alheira (smoked Portuguese sausage croquettes, topped with a zesty mayonnaise) and the most delicious chargrilled octopus, which was served with a sweet potato purée. Meanwhile, the gambas à la guilho (garlic prawns) were possibly the best I’ve ever eaten. My only problem with this dish was the lack of bread to soak up its rich and flavoursome seafood sauce – and I’m not sure that Bar Douro is the ‘finger dipping’ type of place.
The prego no prato is a succulent onglet steak with a confit egg, kale and potato crisps – naturally, the only way to eat this is to pop the egg yolk first and let the golden liquid ooze over all the meat. We ate this alongside porco à alentejana; generous chunks of pork loin served in a tomato broth with clams and potatoes. I used the empty clam shells to scoop up the rich broth, drinking it up eagerly until the bowl was clean.
There’s only one way to finish a traditional Portuguese meal and that’s with a traditional Portuguese pastel de nata (£4). This custard tart was served warm, with cinnamon ice cream and biscuit crumb – I was amazed by how light and delicate this dessert was. My only regret was not ordering two. We washed it down with a delicious glass of Churchill’s Reserve port, the sweet, syrup-like liquid providing a perfect end to the meal.
Bar Douro: exquisite Portuguese wines and authentic Portuguese food. My compliments go to chef Tiago Santoa, who has captured the essence of Portugal brilliantly in each and every dish.
The group is looking to open its second brand in the City, soon!
Arch 35b, Union St, Flat Iron Square, SE1 1TD
020 7378 0524