Tag: London Restaurant Reviews

Canela – Portuguese restaurant in London

We recently visited Canela, a Portuguese restaurant in London’s Covent Garden area, before catching the matinée of The Death of Stalin at the nearby Curzon Soho Cinema.

We were able to book a table online via ‘OpenTable’ the night before and were greeted by the friendly, but not overzealous, staff on arrival.

The decently sized menu caters for all appetites, with dishes ranging from light bar snacks to hearty traditional Portuguese dishes such as Moelas em molho do Chef (chicken gizzards in sauce). As it was lunchtime and we did not want a heavy meal before our visit to the cinema, we opted for a small selection of sharing dishes, followed by a Bifana (pork loin steak sandwich), finishing off our meal with a Pastel de Nata (custard tart).

‘Alheira’ mini burgers with quail eggs

The first sharing dish to arrive was ‘Alheira’ mini burgers with quail eggs – which were so beautifully presented it seemed a shame to eat them. They consisted of a mildly spiced sausage meat topped with a fried quails egg, had a smoky flavour to them – and were delicious. As soon as we cleared our plates we were presented with Pastéis de Bacalhau (salted cod croquettes) – our only disappointment, as they were lukewarm and a bit on the bland side. The last sharing dish to arrive was the Camarão ao Alho (garlic prawns) which consisted of perfectly cooked fresh prawns engulfed in a rich sauce – absolutely marvellous.

A Bifana is a  traditional Portuguese sandwich, consisting of marinated pork loin steak with mustard wrapped in rustic bread. In this case they were served with salad and crisps (the crisps might seem a little strange but it is a common combination in Portugal and works very well).

Bifana (pork loin steak sandwich)

Although they lacked the authentic ‘slightly burnt’ look, the Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts) were very good, the pastry had a nice, crisp consistency and tasted very fresh. Mine was washed down with a delicious Galão (a type of latte, served in a tall glass).

The interior of the restaurant was simply decorated with subtle nods to Portugal; the marble tables for example, and the carefully chosen Portuguese wines that adorn the walls, rather than the gaudy souvenirs or ’reminders’ of the restaurant’s authenticity often found in places heavily frequented by tourists.

Camarão ao Alho (garlic prawns)

The meals were served in white ceramic dishes with a blue rim – the subtlety here lies in the fact that whilst these are traditional Portuguese plates they did not have ‘Portugal’ written on them and nor were they embellished with scenes of the Motherland.

It is also worth noting that the prices are very reasonable, especially given Canela’s location. The aforementioned dishes and a bottle of wine set us back £90 – there are very few places in this part of London where you can find fresh food at so low a cost. The most expensive dish on the menu is Bacalhau à Brás (salted cod with potatoes and eggs), which is priced at only £13.90.

Currently there are some special offers available, including:

‘Afternoon Offer’: free coffee with any cake

Monday to Friday 3.30pm–5.30pm and

‘Lunch promotion’: Portuguese daily dish for only £6.50

Monday to Friday 12pm–3pm.

Check out the menu here

Overall I would say that Canela is worth visiting and makes a refreshing change from the surrounding ‘gimmicky’ or, heaven forbid, chain restaurants so prevalent in this area.

For those of you who might be interested, we thought that ‘The Death of Stalin’ was a decent enough film. Whilst it was by no means a masterpiece of British comedy, it was nevertheless an enjoyable watch, which was surprising considering the subject. Some of the acting was superb.


Arancina Restaurant – Notting Hill Gate

The warm and inviting seating area

Earlier this week, my partner and I decided to have a meal at Arancina, one of favourite local restaurants. It is one of the places we go when we just fancy a cheap, no frills eat that does not consist of processed food – a rare find in London these days.

Arancina serves this purpose beautifully as they serve up homemade Sicilian Pizza and hearty meals including Lasagna, Aubergine Parmigiana and Chicken Milanese with roast veg. The pizza prices range from £7.95 for a 35cm x 20cm Margherita to £23.50 for a huge 70cm x 28cm Carnivora. The ‘hearty meals’ will set you back a mere £7.50 and they also do some combo deals, such as a pizza slice, Arancina ball and a soft drink for £8.10.

There are two Arancina restaurants in London, we visited the Notting Hill Gate branch – it is quite unusual in that there is no proper table service. Instead, you order and pay downstairs at the deli-style counter and then carry your tray of food to the seating area upstairs. However, if you order a whole Pizza, rather than the slices on display, staff will usually bring it upstairs when it is ready.

We ordered two arancina balls as a starter and a 35cm x 20cm Carnivora – together with drinks the bill was under £30. The food, as always, was delicious. In case you are not familiar with them, the arancina balls are deep fried risotto balls with a filling of either beef ragu with peas or ham and cheese.

arancina balls

The pizza we opted for was the Carnivora (Margherita, Spicy Salami, Ham and Italian Pork Sausage) in ‘Paletta’ size (35×25 cm). It was full of flavour, the base was crispy but not too thin, and the toppings are made from good quality ingredients. (Sorry I completely forgot to take a photo of it!)

The only complaint I had this visit was about the music, for some reason they decided to play an old Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child CD at full volume, which didn’t quite fit in with our ‘relaxing after work’ vibe. To be honest, lyrics such as “I don’t think you ready for this jelly ….cause my body too bootylicious for ya babe” are never going to quite work for me whilst I am stuffing my face with pizza. I asked one of the staff to change it or at least turn it down, she obliged but seemed really taken back that I didn’t share her taste in music. The other clientele consisted of three young, trendy twenty something lads and two Japanese tourists – I am quite sure that they were not enjoying the music either!

Arancina opened in 2006 and is known locally as a success, evidenced by the queues of Italian tourists on a Saturday afternoon, eager to get their fill before hitting Portobello Market. I would wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a decent slice of pizza in west London. A menu is available here.

Don’t feel like going out? If you live locally you can order it from Deliveroo here.