What a great find Bar Douro is, tucked away in Finsbury Avenue Square in the heart of The City. It has a warm, inviting and cosy atmosphere, with walls covered in blue and white azulejo Portuguese tiles, and the perfect place for a business lunch, catch up with friends or more intimate date night. There is even a small terrace at the front for those warmer sunny days and an al fresco dinner where you can begin your culinary journey with one of their Portuguese-inspired cocktails or G&T’s. Alternatively, you can sit at the counter inside and watch the chefs hard at work in the open kitchen.
The authentic Portuguese small-plates menu is designed for sharing, ideal for trying a number of different Portuguese flavours. If there are two of you, I would recommend ordering say three dishes each and see how you get on, bearing in mind that the desserts are worth leaving a little room for.
Bar Douro prides itself on its fresh produce with ingredients sourced locally wherever possible while specialist products are imported directly from artisanal producers in Portugal with a focus on grilled fish, seafood and grilled meat.
Last week we got the chance to try some of their new seasonal dishes created by executive chef Neuza Leal, which represent the biggest change to the menu for quite some time.
Some of the new menu’s highlights we tried included Milho Frito, which are crisp polenta bites and a fermented pepper sauce and a superb Octopus Salad, which combines tender octopus with crunchy peppers and fragrant coriander.
The seasonal fish dishes include Atum com Molho Vilão, which is a delicious, seared tuna with molho Vilão. Or you may prefer the Grilled Whole Sea Bream, authentically grilled on hot embers just like the Portuguese do.
We added a small plate of Heritage tomatoes drizzled with a white port vinaigrette as well as a side of Tenderstem broccoli with almonds and homemade requeijào, cooked to perfection and still a little crunchy, just the way they should be cooked.
For meat lovers, the grilled Secretos de Porco Preto alentejano is a black pig and Montanheira salad and a must try. If on the other hand you are partial to a steak, then they have a Bife de cebolada and tutani Onglet steak with onion and bone marrow.
If you are looking for something fairly light to go with cocktails, then a plate of cured meats and/or cheese might fit the bill. But whatever you have, try and leave some room for one of their desserts such as the Pastel de nata which is a tasty custard tart with cinnamon ice cream. Chocolate lovers will no doubt choose the Chocolate mousse and chocolate salame. And if you want to try something traditional, then how about the Abade de priscos which is an egg yolk pudding and lemon sorbet.
The extensive wine list offers the largest selection of Portuguese wines in the UK and is 100 per cent Portuguese, giving you the chance to explore Portugal’s varied regional labels. In fact, in 2019 Wine List Confidential gave Bar Douro the award for ‘London’s Best Iberian Wine List’ and commended for the “exceptional depth” of its list, along with maps to help you understand the regional flavour profiles, which for any wine buff, is really useful. They have a rotating selection by the glass every month, which currently includes crisp, refreshing, mineral whites as well as light reds, perfect for summer.
We were recommended an excellent crisp and refreshing 2022 Quinta das Marias Encruzado from the Dão region, which is situated in the Região Demarcada do Dão and is one of the oldest and established wine regions in Portugal. It was the perfect summer wine for us, pairing superbly with our choice of dishes, being rich, deep and somewhat fruity with very little acidity.
Founder Maxwell Graham commented on the new summer menu, saying:
“We are thrilled to present our new summer dishes, celebrating the best of Portuguese cuisine, crafted to showcase the vibrant flavours of Portugal. Our new dishes, inspired by the sun-kissed shores and seaside tascas, are a true reflection of the country’s culinary heritage. At Bar Douro, we pride ourselves on delivering an unparalleled and genuine taste of Portugal, through our culinary offerings and warm hospitality. We invite everyone to join us for a truly memorable dining experience.”
So, if you want to bring back memories of that Portuguese holiday or just like fresh grilled fish, tantalizing seafood and succulent meat, may I suggest a visit to one of the two Bar Douro restaurants here in London where you can enjoy some of Portugal’s iconic flavours. The London Bridge restaurant is tucked away under a railway arch in Flat Iron Square and is only open in the evenings.
Bar Douro, Finsbury Avenue Square, Unit 3, 1 Finsbury Avenue, London, EC2M 2PF, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7378 0524
The closest stations to Bar Douro are Moorgate and Liverpool Street mainline and underground stations. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday from midday to 10:00pm and closed on Sundays.
Type of Restaurant: Portuguese Restaurant
Price Band: Medium
Insider Tip: Enjoy an al fresco meal out on their terrace if it’s a warm, sunny day.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Bar Douro