You know that feeling when you meet someone and think, you know what? We can really get on. This might be the start of something, what that something is though, only time can tell. One hours worth of fun with a kid in the year above in detention, you’re friends until you both go off to university. Two drunken nights with a friend and their friend who then becomes your girlfriend. Three pints with someone you met at the pub who you’ll never see again. These relationships are sometimes fleeting and they’re sometimes full-time, but you never quite know at the start. This is what we’re feeling about Londrino. It’s the new guy who joined your class aged 14: roots from Portugal, now in Bermondsey, nice Converse and the potential to become a part of the gang.
Its focus is on seafood, as is the Portuguese way, and some of its food is interesting and tasty enough that we think this relationship is a goer. The menu can look a bit all over the place on first glance, and there’s no hint at what course this is or how many times to chew that. Is this crab a starter? We don’t know but we want it. What on earth are leeks in lactose? We’ll try anything once, so one of those please. Cultured butter? Yes, a bit more culture sounds good to us, thank you. This sounds haphazard but trust us, for the most part things turn out well.
The food isn’t traditional either: this is the sort of place that gives you a concentrated puree of all things crabby to smother on top of bread, or a handful of raw prawns that are so deliciously creamy you’d swear you were eating a fish pie, or a mushroom cracker that took three days to make. And although the restaurant emphasises its seafood, the meat is cooked simply and superbly. The mallard in particular is a showstopper - it’s like a pint you didn’t ask for from someone you just met.
While most of what’s on offer is excellent, there are a few things that don’t quite hit the mark: we’re looking at you lactose leeks. And the pickled potato noodles over salt cod probably don’t need to be a repeat guest on the frequently-changing menu. Also, the vibe is a bit so-so. It may be that it’s a bit too spacious and spread out, or it may be that the room feels like it’s been designed by a Bond villain having a midlife crisis. Do you expect me to eat Mr. Londrino? No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to admire this chandelier made out of a jet engine.
So, is this it? Is Londrino getting invited into the WhatsApp group immediately? Well, we might keep it to one on one texts for now. As it stands, pretty, pretty good for someone we don’t go way back with. We think we’re gonna get on well. Londrino may not be the friend you spend every Saturday hungover on the sofa with, but you’ll definitely be texting them to see what they’re doing later.
Close your eyes and you won’t be entirely sure of what you’re eating. Much more interesting than your usual raw fish.
This puddle is essentially the epitome of crab. It’s great on bread, or your finger, or directly on your tongue as you lick the bowl.
Lovely, fresh cockles when you can find them, these guys are suffering from empty shell syndrome. The traditional Portuguese bread is a bit on the heavy side for our liking.
These have a good bite to them and the salt cod gives it a nice freshness, but we’re not sure about potato in noodle form.
Smoky and sweet potatoes that are the perfect side. We’d sink a pint of that red pepper juice.
More interesting on paper than in your mouth. The beef has a nice depth of flavour, but there’s not much else going on.
Well worth ordering the whole duck. Split this between your table and everyone will be very happy.
The sweet and salty flavours of this are the ideal way to end a meal. We just wish it were about twice the size. So maybe order two.