Portugal and its eastern wanderings to Goa come under scrutiny at the latest venture of Cyrus Todiwala (proprietor of Café Spice Namasté and sometime TV chef). Assado (meaning ‘roast’ in Portuguese), occupies capacious premises on the ground floor of the spanking new ‘Hampton by Hilton’ hotel. There’s no mistaking the corporate hum to the place, though the décor – bright Portuguese-style tiling, Scandi wooden furniture, turquoise floor and yellow ceiling – has an appealing breeziness.
Chefs busy themselves behind a long counter that also overlooks the breakfast servery for hotel guests. The menu consists of half a dozen Portuguese-accented tapas (a tangy roundel of tender braised octopus with paprika and tomato, perhaps), then a choice of bread with various fillings (aka sandwiches). The ‘signature’ filling of pulled pork assado, served with salad, was succulent but lacked oomph.
Indo-Portuguese fusion is most evident in a trio of toppings for naans (ham and cheese, say). From the modest list of Goa-inspired main courses, cordeiro xacuti had tender chunks of lamb and potato in a pleasingly spicy masala. Did it live up to the menu’s billing as ‘probably the most complicated curry in the world’? Probably not. Unremarkable bebinca – a moist Goan layered cake of coconut milk and ghee – ended the meal.
So, the menu still needs work. The tapas are good, but there’s an over-reliance on distinctly average bread; no vegetable side dishes; and a paucity of the main ingredient that unites Portugal and Goa: fresh fish. Staff need to loosen up, too; we tired of being urged to order another glass of wine. The concept at Assado is undoubtedly interesting, so let's hope they give it the tweaks it needs to reach its full potential.
157 Waterloo Road
|Opening hours:||11am-11pm daily|
|Transport:||Lambeth North or Southwark tube, or Waterloo tube/rail|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £65.|
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