41 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
WLC Rank : 34
Glass from : £ 8 (125 ml)
BEST FORArt rich environment
A thoughtful wine list ranging from biodynamic artisans to first growths
Considered spirits and sakes
The new Mãos membership including monthly provision boxes and exclusive workshops and talks
Chef Edoardo Pellicano’s collaboration with James Brown of the Blue Mountain School was born to refine the concept of the dinner party and boasts an adventurous cellar.
Four nights a week, 16 guests are buzzed through a mysterious door off the cobbled Redchurch Street into a kitchen of hand-painted tiles with a shallow leafy terrace. Led by Edoardo Pellicano, one of four chefs may shuck them a scallop to begin, briefly poached in a warm broth, accompanied, perhaps by a pre-batched punchy Northumberland gin martini scented with German vermouth and seasoned with a dot of olive oil, served in a cool clay cup.
Mãos (Portuguese for “hands”) is a cocoon-like, earthily textured dining room with rune-like tablets and a tapestry on the walls deep within the Blue Mountain School. This mall of craft is a detailed, organic-seeming space with galleries of crafts and stock pieces from cult fashion label, Hostem, topped with a wisteria-scented terrace which guests dining on Saturday “matinees” visit in supplied slippers via an irregularly paddled staircase.
Mãos is the preserve of Nuno Mendes who is perhaps best-known for being the head chef of Chiltern Firehouse. However, Mãos’ roots run deeper to the point when Mendes ran an almost mythical supper-club from his Shoreditch flat called The Loft.
Guests are encouraged to choose wines within an almost ecclesiastical anteroom from a soft leather-bound list compiled by Alex Casey in a font designed specifically for the Blue Mountain School. Wines by the glass are chalked at an angle on the slate countertop.
Casey gives preference for “artisans who respect for the totality of the environment in which they produce.” He is particularly adept at plotting a seamless vinous path through the 17 courses, which may include smoked eel and maitake mushrooms, and cherry stone ice cream finished with yarrow flowers. “Normally, beverage pairing is death by 1,000 cuts where you wish for more goddamn wine without the explanations which should have a lid put on them,” he bemoans. “But we offer more ‘meaningful’ measures.” These are poured into Gabriel-Glas Gold and Zalto Universal glasses.
Of the sheer number of courses, Casey is keen to point out, “it’s not a marathon designed to destroy your waistline and, the following morning, your will to live!”
Looking at the trophy wall of spent bottles of icons by Silex, Raveneau, Gaja and Gravner, Casey notes, “it’s been a good first year.” Thankfully, their prices have an earth wire attached, too, Casey having learnt the importance of conscientiously offering value while working at the “nimble” Sager + Wilde for three years prior.
Guests are not tethered to the table. “They can keep us company in the cellar or hang out in the kitchen,” says Casey. “When a dish is ready, we’ll find them with cutlery. Our objective is to give a proprietary sense.”
Casey and his co-host, Sarah Papadimitriou, find it hard to describe the “magic” which happens around the table, which touches people on “a more personal level.” So as not to break the spell, guests’ credit cards are authorised in advance, avoiding the rude interruption of glowing PDQ machines and matters of mere finance.
Casey and Papadimitriou are proud of the rate of returning guests at Mãos, “being up-to 40% some weeks,” says Casey, including a noble prize-winning physicist, “and the lawyer of Julian Assange.”
By Douglas Blyde.