Time Out says
Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.
The first restaurant proper from the chef behind hit residency LC at Climpson’s Arch.
Please note, Londrino has now closed. Time Out Food editors, March 2019.
Dry those tears. So you missed Leandro Carreira’s cooking when he was in residency at Climpson’s Arch. Or perhaps you didn’t, but that flutter of smugdom was short-lived, because he shut up shop in September 2016. When would you be able to eat that eclectic, Portuguese-inspired cooking again? Well, now. Because, in the shadow of the Shard, on a road to nowhere in particular, is Carreira’s first restaurant proper: Londrino.
On first sight, the glass-walled space seems stark, minimalist. Yet, surprisingly, not cold. In spite of the industrial proportions, the vibe is nicely noisy rather than flinchingly clattery. Ah yes: sound-absorbing panels are wedged between the girders above. And other thoughtful touches, like walls and floors fashioned from swish interlocking pentagons, not of porcelain, but of (Portuguese) wood. You can actually hear the jazzy, Latin-leaning music.
There was also the warmth of service. I adored our Melbourne-born waiter. Not only did he know the menu like it was a good friend but he was so jovial and welcoming that when he talked about us coming back to compare notes on Portugal (he was off on a trip, his first time), I almost booked right back in.
But anyway, the food. This is cooking for people who are bored of eating out. Carreira originally hails from Leiria, just off Portugal’s west coast. There’s inspiration from home but he’s also raided the global larder. Dishes are small and modernist. The leeks come glazed in lactose (which becomes dark, syrupy and sticky, like molasses).
A plate of veg blew me away. It had chunks of sweet-and-sour celeriac (caramelised, but with a sharp, vinegary edge). It had sprouts in all shapes and sizes, with some, I swear, no bigger than garden peas. It even had leaves of cavolo nero, slathered in a lipsmacking pine nut miso. Eat my greens? Oh, go on then.
Then there was the squid. This had been charred and slashed into pale, satisfyingly chewy ribbons: it was like eating a plate of smoky albino worms. The juices mingled with browned onions and calcots (Spanish scallions, cherished for their flavour), like the echo of an onion soup. Later, there was grilled, soaked brioche: the taste of burnt toast and oranges. Insanely good.
Very occasionally, the abstract idea of a dish was more exciting than the reality. Like pickled potato ‘noodles’ (aka spiralised spuds) with salted cod: fine, but only fine. Then there was the trainee who brought us things we hadn’t ordered, mumbled dish names as she delivered them and never cracked a smile. Hmm.
So, a few creases to iron out. But is Londrino a destination for people in the mood for something a little bit different? Abso-blimmin-lutely.