157 Waterloo Rd, SE1 8XA
www.assado.co.uk/020 7870 3747
A couple of months ago I visited Cafe Spice Namaste (see our review), the flagship restaurant of chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE of BBC2’s Incredible Spice Men. I really enjoyed the pan-Asian, European and Parsee influences in the food and was pleased to be asked to review Assado, Cyrus’ Fusion Restaurant, just round the corner from The Old Vic, where he combines Portuguese, Brazilian, Indian and Goan cuisines.
The restaurant is part of the Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo development and the interior is bright and buzzy, decked out with colourful tiles and light wood fittings. The offer is part café, part restaurant and part take-out deli but the food is a more serious proposition than this implies.
Over a crisp glass of Prosecco Terra Serena we nibble on the Assado Bread Basket served with olive oil, grape mullases & thyme honey balsamic. The bread is chewy in a good way and given sweetness by the mullases and balsamic.
The Tapas platter featured Portuguese/Goanese Prawn rissoles in a spicy cream sauce wrapped in a savoury pastry, crumbed and deep fried served with an Azore’s goat’s cheese dressing. They tasted authentically Portuguese but with a bit more kick. Braised Diced Octopus in smoked paprika and tomato sauce was warming, tender and delicious. Bacalhau salt cod croquettes with goats cheese dip were crisp and tasty with the tangy goat’s cheese complementing the blander salt cod.
We moved on to a glass each of the Portuguese Tavedo Douro red and white. My glass of white was robust enough to stand up to the gentle heat of the chargrilled Wester Ross salmon in Green Masala and Fiona’s red to her chargrilled Venison with fennel seeds.
Assado has a large open oven where they bake their breads. Our hot & spicy chilli cheese and garlic Naan breads were wonderful; fresh from the oven they were pillowy and full of spice.
Assado’s Lamb Xacutti curry is made with over twenty-one ingredients, cooked with lamb and served with garlic rice. It’s not for the faint-hearted! Fiona described the lamb as being lip-numbingly hot but really tender and as tasting of the best of Indian comfort food.
My Goan fish curry had a great depth of flavour from the saffron and turmeric. It had an intense earthiness which I loved-I had been looking forward to this dish and it didn’t disappoint.
Our dessert platter featured three puddings. Pastel de Nata is the classic Portuguese tart made with crumbly sweet pastry and filled with delicious custard sprinkled with cinnamon. Bebinca is the most popular Goanese dessert. It’s a six-layer cake made with pancake batter which uses coconut milk flavoured with nutmeg. It takes six hours to make and is worth every second of loving toil! Coconut and cardamom ice-cream was the last of the trio of desserts and was cooling and fragrant after the heat of the curries.
Assado offers an interesting alternative to most curry houses. It’s neither a traditional joint nor is it one of the new breed of fine dining Indian restaurants. Instead it offers intriguing combinations that mix up several connected food cultures into a coherent and pleasurable dining experience. Try it and see.