When you hear the words piri piri chicken, chances are that your mind wanders towards refillable drinks dispensers and a certain red and black cockerel. But if you’re after proper Portuguese cooking, then Casa Do Frango is where it’s at. Since they stormed London Bridge with gorgeous interiors and equally as jaw-dropping bites, this has been the go-to for authentic cuisine. And when they set up shop with a second spot within walking distance from my office? I just had to get a taste for myself.
Nestled in a thin building that occupies a corner on the unassuming stretch between Shoreditch High Street and Great Eastern Street, the restaurant sits in quite the quirky space. You’ve got a bakery and bar downstairs, with the top floor branching out to reveal neutral tones and wooden furniture. The Shoreditch site follows on with the leafy décor, industrial feels and muted colour scheme that made its the original SE1 spot to popular. It’s got that East London cool-without-trying thing going on.
Easing into our Friday night feast, my dinner date and I started with a cocktail each; settling on a fresh, lime-doused Caipirão (£8) and a port old fashioned (£8) that married the classic ingredients with Tawny port, chocolate and orange for a smooth kick. Salgadinhos (£4) – aka empanadas – were filled with kale, mushroom and caramelised onion, while almôndegas (£6) arrived as a juicy mess of slow-cooked tomatoes tossed with herbs and covering juicy meatballs.
Of course, if you’re reading this then you’ve probably come for the main event. Forget what you know about medium spice or mango and lime dressing, because Casa Do Frango’s signature half chicken (£10) comes brushed with piri piri and served with a spicy side sauce that packs a real punch. It’s perfectly seasoned, huge in size and worth every penny.
Coupled with a bottled of vinho verde (Adega de Monção, £23), it was as if we’d been transported to the shores of the Algarve. All that was missing was the warm weather. Adding in the sweet, yet fiery African rice (£6) – we’re talking crispy chicken skin, chorizo and plantain – and a sweet potato feijoada (£8) that mixed crispy artichoke with fleshy mushrooms and white beans, it was top marks all around.
If you know me, then you’ll know that there’s always room for dessert. And no true dessert lover can say no to a pastel de nata (£4). Flawlessly crispy on the outside and oozing with sweet custard, the classic tart has got to be among the best I’ve ever had. So good, in fact, that we were still tucking in with a glass of green wine come closing time. Tastiest 4 hours I’ve had in a while.
The DesignMyNight Digest
With few restaurants in London that really know what they’re doing when it comes to genuine Portuguese cuisine, Casa Do Frango is a real dime a dozen. This is the kind of place where you could easily spend hours catching up with friends over detectable dishes and flowing wines without even breaking the bank... and I plan on doing that all over again.
For more edible ideas, check out our guide to the best restaurants in Shoreditch.