What: A follow-up to well-received Southwark Portuguese restaurant and wine bar Bar Douro. Located at the 1 Finsbury Avenue development near Liverpool Street station just off Broadgate Circle, Bar Douro City is a fair bit larger than its tightly-proportioned Southwark sibling and serves a more expansive menu.
Who: Bar Douro is the creation of Max Graham, who spent much of his childhood in Porto (his father founded Churchill’s Port back in 1981 and his family once owned Graham’s Port). The original Bar Douro opened in 2016 following successful pop-ups at Pop Brixton, Carousel and Soho Farmhouse and is one of a relative handful of restaurants to offer traditional Portuguese food in the capital. While there have been a fair few high profile Portuguese restaurant launches in recent years - including Londrino and Volta do Mar - these have offered a more contemporary take on the country’s food. The head chef of Bar Douro City is Neuza Leal, who trained and cut her teeth as a chef in Portugal but has spent much of her career in London.
The vibe: The Finsbury Avenue restaurant is larger than the Flat Iron Square original but still a smallish site with 44 covers plus a further 24 outside. The space is arranged around an open kitchen with counter seating and the walls are adorned with beautiful hand-painted Portuguese tiles. The overall effect is broadly similar to Bar Duoro mark one but feels slicker and more high budget - a good fit for the City workers that will inevitably make up the majority of its clientele.
The food: Keen for his fledgling group to not be perceived as taking a cookie cutter approach, Graham has shaken up the menu by looking further afield than the eponymous Douro (pronounced door-o) Valley area that was the muse for his first restaurant. The whole of the country is now fair game, with the menu now billed as a ‘voyage through Portugal’ that ‘highlights regional dishes alongside national classics’. Dishes include Presa Ibérico with kale migas; cataplana (rustic stews served in a copper pot); beer-braised rabbit; and Bolo do Caco (suckling pig sandwich). Fans of the original will be pleased to know the croquetes de alheira (smoked Portuguese sausage) and the Gambas à la guilho (garlic prawns) are still present and correct.
And another thing: The originally Bar Douro has a strong exclusively Portuguese wine selection but considerably more storage at the new City site means Graham - who has enviable contacts in the country’s wine scene - can offer a far more extensive selection. Indeed, Bar Duoro City offers one of the most extensive selections of Portuguese wine in the country with 20 wines by the glass and around 120 by the bottle, including some of the country’s most expensive and in-demand wines.