Whether it’s al fresco dining or a cosy dinner (depending on this unpredictable weather of ours), our new favourite Covent Garden restaurant is the Portuguese Canela. Previously a café, it now has entrances and outdoor seating on both Earlham Street and Shorts Gardens. Inspired by their Portuguese and Brazilian roots, the owners have refined their establishment with a classy yet fresh decor, an eclectic mix of the antique (think whitewashed walls with an array of old wireless radios) and the contemporary (teal wooden panelling and marble tabletops) with some classic 1950s lighting and statement mirrors thrown in. And the style is reflected in the food. All produce, sourced directly from Portugal by Suzanna Pascoal and Suki Lam, is fresh, regional, and authentic Portuguese.
We loved the selection of canapés created for us to sample the ‘Petisco’ plates and main dishes – Pata Negra (Iberian ham from acorn-fed pigs), speciality Portuguese cheeses, creamy black rice with prawns, Bacalhau á Bras (salt cod with potatoes and eggs) and our favourite, Alheira mini burgers with quail’s eggs. All dishes, large and small, are perfect for sharing, but they are so delicioso we suspect you won’t want to!
The wine list consists of carefully selected boutique wines from small, independent vineyards in Portugal. In particular we love the vinho verde, a traditional Portuguese green wine, not in colour, but in vintage, fresh, fruity and light.
So if it’s a business lunch, pre-theatre dinner, or post-work drinks, Canela – a tiny piece of Portugal – is the perfect place to while away the summer months.
33 Earlham Street, London WC2 (020 7240 6926)