Arch 35b Flat Iron Square, Union Street, SE1 1TD
WLC Rank : 64
Cuisine: Wine bar
Glass from : £ 6 (125 ml)
BEST FORPortuguese only wine list
The Cellar List
Port tasting flights
Emerging from a railway arch, Bar Douro is a gastronomic festival of Portugal created by Max Graham of the famous Port dynasty.
With authentic Portuguese tiles and marble counters for 30 at which you can easily while away the afternoon, Bar Douro wine bar and mezzanine cellar adorn one of seven railway arches at Flat Iron Square near Borough Market.
It is run by artist and restaurateur, Max Graham whose father Johnnie founded Churchill’s Port in 1981, being the first new Port house to emerge in half a century. Port, of course, features on the exclusively Portuguese list with Churchill’s emblematic 10-year-old dry white version “pairing perfectly” with the toasted almond tart, Graham recommends.
The Cellar List features a map highlighting regional flavour profiles which helpfully illustrates the diversity of what the country has to offer. “Portugal has over 250 native grape varieties and such varied terroir from the Minho in the North to the Alentejo in the South, to the Açores and Madeira in the middle of the Atlantic,” notes Graham.
Instagram-ready, flavoursome dishes are by Sean Marsh, “an honorary member of our Portuguese family,” says Graham, whose love of Portuguese cuisine “began with a pop-up in the Algarve, quickly escalating to a position at two Michelin-starred Vila Joya, followed by two years at St. John.” These may include croquettes filled, near to bursting, with smoky sausage, char-grilled sardines with blistered peppers and shaved fennel, and, with a little notice, whole suckling pig. “With heritage tomatoes from the Isle of Wight with white Port vinaigrette, I am also a huge fan of a slightly chilled glass of Tiago Sampaio’s Uivo Renegado which sits somewhere between rosé and a light red.”
At the start of 2020, Graham opened the sequel venue, Bar Douro City at Broadgate Circle. “While it was very upsetting to have to close our doors, we were forced to adapt, launching an online bottle shop, followed by Bar Douro’s Wine Club.” This provides members access to a Discovery Box chosen by “wine detective”, Sarah Ahmed, “featuring wines which we are introducing to the UK for the first time,” says Graham.
While Graham had to reduce his selection of wines by the glass at Bar Douro, “to better manage wastage being open only five days a week,” this has in no way made the offering less exciting, he insists. “We continue to rotate our wines by the glass with new discoveries imported from small independent producers such as Herdade do Rocim’s Fresh from Amphora, naturally vinified in Talha clay pots. Because it’s such an easy-drinking, quaffable wine, it’s served in a one-litre bottle.”
By Douglas Blyde.