Hidden inside Flat Iron Square is Bar Douro, a chic Portuguese tapas joint that stands out amidst the street-food stalls, cool bars and artisan bakeries of this developing space. Bar Douro had long been on My List, ever since it opened and I’d seen images of its #instatiles – that distinctive blue and white geometric print – splattered all over social media. Unsurprisingly, though, all the spots that my companion and I tossed around as the setting for a Friday evening long overdue catch-up bite were in the area, from Arthur Hoppers to Lupins. Indeed, Southwark’s Low Line – a landscaped urban walkway along the railway arches – which mirrors New York’s High Line, only more grounded, is full of foodie’s haunts, including Lantana – where I’d recently enjoyed a soft launch brunch (reviewed here). Although my companion had already been to Bar Douro a few times – including on their £12 menu which sounds like a steal – she was happy to return and sample their latest variation on their regularly changing seasonal menu.
As noted above, Bar Douro’s azulejos-tiled room is what really drew me to this place. Everything about this place is mood-board worthy to any design afficiando: its geometric tiles, the barstools-only dining room, the open kitchen, and the curvaceous marble counters. Design-wise, this place is marvellous. Alas, though, as we didn’t want to wait an hour for a table inside, we enjoyed our meal al fresco underneath their heaters on the wooden planks. Sitting outside after a long week is actually the perfect way to spend a Friday evening after a sunny and crisp Autumn day. And where better than in Flat Iron Square, with its buzzing courtyard bar and the sounds of the nearby railways reverberating in the background? Very picture perfect.
Although I never really choose to eat at Portuguese places – indeed I queried what Porutugese food even was – the small plates here are true to Portuguese traditions, with a few modern twists. All the “Horta/Garden” plates of the menu presented solid vege options:
- BD Potatoes with coriander mayonnaise (£4.50);
- Chargrilled tenderstem broccoli with ginger, chilli and garlic (£5); and
- Pumpkin with requeijao and marjoram oil (£6).
Sampling all three, I was very pleasantly surprised by what Portuguese is – it turns out, it’s very underrated: prepared well, it surpasses any Nandos. Every single dish was well flavoured and perfectly seasoned. My favourite was definitely the pumpkin. Although I normally prefer butternut squash, I loved the gentle sweetness of the vegetable. The roasted texture also created a perfectly squishy and chewy texture that melted in the mouth combined with the soft cheese.
The coriander mayonnaise generously drizzled over the potatoes, meanwhile, lifted this dish into upmarket patatas bravas territory. The broccoli, meanwhile, although nothing to write home about, was delicate, perfectly garlicy and it’s always a good idea to make the most of vegetables that crop up for just a short period.
Although the service was slightly scatty and nonresponse this evening – perhaps because we were sitting outside and the place was very busy – an evening at Bar Duoro is the perfect way to stay-cate in London. It’s a gorgeous space to while away an evening – either inside or out – over a carafe of vino and a plate or three.
Bar Douro, Arch 35B, Flat Iron Square,, 66 Union Street,, London SE1 1TD