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Friday, 24 January 2014

London Restaurant Reviews - Eyre Brothers

Where:  70 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4QX, http://www.eyrebrothers.co.uk

Cost: Starters range from £6 to £12. Main courses range from £15 to £24, with a couple of shared main courses at up to £30 per person.  Desserts / cheese platter are from £2 to £7. Entry level wines cost under £20 for both red and white wines, and there is an extensive selection of sherries, ports and Madeiras.

About: Tucked away on Leonard Street in Shoreditch, just metres from Great Eastern Street and Old Street station and less than a mile from my home in Islington, I must have driven past Eyre Brothers thousands of times without realising it was there.  The decor is all dark wood, white walls and chocolate-coloured leather.

Eyre Brothers was opened in 2001 by David and Rob Eyre, who used to be partners in the famous Eagle gastro pub on Farringdon Road. Reflecting their origins in the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique, the menu draws on classic Portuguese and Spanish ingredients and flavour combinations that I've always loved, so I arrived hoping to be impressed.

What We Ate: We kicked off with appetisers of “pimientos de padron fritos” and “pasteis de bacalhao” (salt-cod fritters) both £6.  The fried peppers were good - simply served with flakes of salt that went down really well with the Fino Sherry we had them with.

The “pasteis de bacalhao” were however a revelation – I have been eating these fritters since I was a toddler back in Brazil, but these were some of the finest I have tried for sometime with a generous amount of salted cod to potatoes, and very well seasoned.

Next, Dr G opted for chestnut, chorizo and parsley soup (£6), which was a good hearty winter option. I had the “bacalhao com grao de bico” - warm salt cod with chickpeas, onion and garlic and a soft boiled egg (£10). Salt cod can be rather tricky to get right - it's often tough, dry or too salty from inadequate rehydration, or tasteless if it has been over-soaked. Happily, Eyre Brothers' version was perfectly cooked.

I really wanted to try the Alentejano pork for 2, but couldn't resist ordering also the grilled fillet of acorn-fed Iberico pork, marinated with peppers, thyme and garlic, served with potatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic and white wine (£21). This is considered to be the restaurant’s signature dish and I can see why – served pink, which is quite unusual for pork, the meat was so tender and very flavoursome. Iberico pork is the Rolls Royce of the pork world, free range and fed on acorn only, it is normally served as charcuterie so it was nice to be able to try it fresh and expertly cooked, it really didn’t disappoint.

My favourite Portuguese dish of the night however was the “Cataplana de Porco Alentejano” - or Portuguese pork with clams served in a “cataplana” pot.

The combination of pork and seafood may seem unlikely, but it is typically Portuguese and when it is cooked correctly, a sort of alchemy occurs which is utterly magical.

It is served with a red pepper and paprika sauce and deep-fried cubes of potatoes which soak up all that lovely meat and seafood juices. At £40 for 2, Eyre Brothers did an excellent version of this Portuguese classic, better than many I have had on my trips to Porto.

For dessert, we opted for the Tarta de Santiago, a flourless orange and almond tart with orange marmalade and cream (£5). This was a nice way to end a rich meal, being light and with some refreshing acidity from the citrus fruit.

We also had the very traditional Portuguese dessert of Toucinho de Ceu  (literally "the fat of heaven") a cake based on almonds and egg yolks (£5). It was served with strawberries, and was also good.

What We Drank: With our appetisers, we had a glass of Fino sherry (El Maestro Sierra, £8.25), a bone dry and bready fortified wine, and a glass of Manzanilla Solera Reserva, Emilio Lustau (£5).
With the main meal, we shared a bottle of 5 fincas, Castillo Perelada Reserva 2008 (£45). With a blend of garnacha, syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this was a complex wine with notes of cherry and blackberry, soft tannins and a long finish. It went very well with our pork dishes.
Busy Bar at Eyre Brothers - Excellent Selection of Portuguese and Spanish Wines and Sherries

Likes: Lovely Iberian cooking, good wine, sherry and port selection sensibly priced, attentive service. The Menu del Dia (Lunch Menu) is excellent value at £18 for 2 courses. Given a day's notice, the restaurant can roast a whole suckling pig Portuguese style.

Dislikes: Perhaps unsurprisingly given its location in the City, it has a somewhat corporate feel, and many of the clientele on our visit appeared to be groups of business people and their business guests in suits unwinding / bonding after a day in the office.

Verdict: An excellent option for dinner in Hoxton, Old Street or Finsbury Circus areas and for some seriously good Iberian cooking. The cooking and service were faultless and as good as some of the top establishments in Portugal. Highly recommended.


  1. This restaurant looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. Hiya, Looks great. Would you say it was more Portuguese and not so much Mozambique-y?


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