When Grace Dent brands the food ‘magical’ in one of her restaurant reviews, you sit up and take notice. Turning this staunch critic into a fangirl, Londrino is the latest outpost from head chef Leandro Carreira; the name meaning ‘Portuguese for Londoner.’ Fresh from his time at the helm of Viajante, it’s clear that the mission here is to mark the Portuguese culinary stamp firmly on London’s vibrant food scene, having successfully carved a niche in this thriving destination restaurant & wine bar, with a line in contemporary Portuguese seafood & signature creations.
With the menu and dishes changing so regularly to showcase the freshest of ingredients, we were ready to sample the specialities showcased that very evening, matched by wines recommended from the excellent sommelier. To begin, the regal oyster with punchy samphire vinaigrette brought flavours of the sea, with impeccable freshness.
Modern Portuguese delicacies kicked off with Enoki mushroom, egg yolk and pimentao powder. The dash of paprika-style spice complemented the yolk once it had been mixed, and the delicate strands of wild mushroom finished this elegant dish to perfection.
I loved how the cockles bulhao pato and bolo de caco were treated with such a light touch in the cooking process. A traditional, authentic dish sautéed with garlic and coriander, the cockles were treated with respect and weren’t overdone, keeping their pearly tenderness with briny perfection and not overcooked in the slightest, as some restaurants tend to do.
On bold purple daikon and mizuna, the smoked prawn was visually striking and packed a real punch with the charred crustacean flavours. A Mica vinho verda to match was reminiscent of the zesty, fresh whites we tried on our last trip to Portugal.
Hispi cabbage with black garlic biscuit was earthy both in flavour and in visual metaphor. The black garlic biscuit was really unique and not something we had tried before, offering up a stark contrast of textures with the leafy greens.
Aged Peking duck, the crispy rice cake had an original rice wine flavour lingering with soft accents of vanilla. To match, a baga berry-filled wine variety by Filipa Pato marked the excellent Portuguese producers showcased at Londrino.
Seeing as Grace Dent waxed lyrical about them, the ice creams were an essential item to be ordered. The amazake was the clear standout flavour from the selection, a roasted and fermented sugary rice creation which was distinctive and delicious. Think along the lines of a Japanese dulce de leche.
Meanwhile, the tart selection had blood orange, malted and chocolate choices on display – a great way to sample a little of each flavour on offer.
The toasted brioche was a gargantuan bricklike wedge with toasted hazelnuts which we could only nibble on with a spoonful, having been spoilt with such a delicious feast before. The sour caramel gave a dash of sweet-sour sweetness which lifted the dish.
Having experienced a contemporary and impressive range of native Portuguese delights that brought back memories of travels across the motherland, it’s safe to say this Portuguese Londoner certainly has some culinary swagger. Not forgetting that the wines were the real stars of the show, complementing all the dishes impeccably, this newcomer in London Bridge will surely be around for some time to come.
36 Snowsfields Yard, London, SE1 3SU