Tucked away in Bankside's Flat Iron resides Bar Douro, a hidden gem of the finest Portuguese seafood. The small yet cosy azulejos-tiled room has a barstools-only dining around an open kitchen and served at curvaceous marble counters. Entirely welcoming, Bar Douro encompasses that getaway holiday feeling whilst feeling completely at home altogether.
A lot of British people will probably not think too much about Portuguese cuisine, and if they do, it's probably about what they had to eat on their holidays. However, Portuguese cuisine should be viewed as the dark horse here - it's continually on the rise in the form of fine dining experiences. Enter Bar Douro - combining said dining experience with seafood tapas.
We entered the small restaurant on a particularly rainy day to be met with the smouldering aromas of paprika, chilli, Portuguese olive oil and the freshness of the ocean from the open kitchen. Not going to lie, I'm not one to rant and rave about seafood. I was apprehensive at first, adamant in myself for not being a seafood lover. After one dish cooked in front of myself by the chef I was converted to seafood lover. It was that easy. It should be noted that I have never been to a place with such friendly staff - completely welcoming and desiring to share their knowledge about the Portuguese wine they offered and which one would suit our palette the most. We left our choices in the hands of the staff and they couldn't have given us a better red wine if they tried. Already off to a great start, the main chef at Bar Douro began serving us our small plates which consisted of a Mushroom and Serra Cheese Rissole, Roast Squash, Pumpkin Seeds Vinaigrette and Requeijão. A relatively light start, with the wine going down maybe a little too good, the chef then dished up the plates I was most scared about - the actual seafood dishes.
Arrived at our table were Garlic Prawns, Salt Cod Hash, and then the star of the show - Octopus with sweet potato. I'm never one to exaggerate - but all of these dishes were to die for. All cooked in front of us and seasoned in the most perfect Portuguese way. You could taste the freshness of the fish, washed down beautifully by the Portuguese wine. Bar Douro had converted me to something I'd never thought I'd be.
To top off our Portuguese experience, the staff brought out some Portuguese Port for us to try insisting that it would be perfect taste of Portugal, and right they were. We were enjoying letting our food settle, and when the moment was right, we had to go in for some dessert. Assured by the chef that it would be the perfect end to a perfect experience at Bar Douro. Never one to be pressured into dessert, we opted for the traditional Custard Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream and a rich and silky Caramel Mousse. I can still taste the memories of them. Be warned though, the desserts are very rich and filling, so if you ate too much small plates (like we did) it would probably be best to share a dessert.
Congratulations to Bar Douro for converting me to a seafood lover - I can't believe what I've been missing this whole time.