Why have you chosen now to open a restaurant?
I didn’t choose to do it now, but the circumstances just led me to this time of year. Like everyone else, I got to the point where I had to do something of my own. It’s been a good 24 years working for other people so it’s time to do my own thing.
Will it be difficult adjusting to having your own place?
I’m sure it will be a big challenge. It’s definitely a huge leap, because we are all working for ourselves now. The ethic of work is still the same, it’s still there, but there’s much more pressure from my side to make sure everything works perfectly. There will be a lot of people under Londrino’s umbrella working for me and I have a social responsibility to do it well, not to mention a financial responsibility.
What’s your team going to be like?
I’ve got two guys in the kitchen who have worked with me previously but I haven’t worked with the other 11 before. Fortunately it hasn’t been too difficult to find kitchen staff. On front of house I already know that the guys will do a great job, because Cameron (Dewar, who worked with Leandro at both Viajante and Climpson’s Arch) and I have worked together before and been friends for many years. We really work well together.
You’ve worked at Viajante, Koya and Lyle’s - all of which are very different restaurants. What lessons are you taking from each place?
Throughout my entire career - not just here in the UK - what strikes me as most important is having a strong sense of where you’re heading and what you actually want for your business. You have to stick to it. There’s no point constantly changing everything as you go. Eventually the business will grow, and hopefully it will grow naturally in the right direction. In terms of your concept, you have to keep going. The easiest thing is to throw in the towel and do something else, but it’s so important to stick to your guns and not to be afraid. That’s what I’ve learned from all those places. The thing they have in common is that they are all very driven by their idea.
What’s on the launch menu?
Dishes will include Savoy cabbage with smoked seaweed butter and mackerel; octopus with red pepper miso; scallops, roe, skirt and fig leaf milk; Welsh lamb, onions, brown butter and coffee sauce; grilled soaked brioche, sour caramel and hazelnuts.
Will there be any unusual menu items?
Yes! Toffee mayo that is served with the quail is one of the things that will be there because we like to push boundaries. I want to create at least a few items on the menu that are interesting with flavours and textures that people might not have had before. There will definitely be some of that.
Will there be Portuguese influences?
I can’t hide my roots because I love Portugal and its food but it won’t be a Portuguese restaurant - there are so many flavours and ideas that I really like. In Portugal we use a lot of things from the sea, so Londrino will serve a lot of seafood. I see it more as using British produce with a Portuguese slant. We will be using 95% British produce.