After steering my friends away from another restaurant chain for a girly dinner I convinced them to meet at Assado, the new(ish) restaurant from Cyrus Todiwala that opened in March this year. If the food was anything like the chef’s personality on Saturday Kitchen and like his restaurant Café Spice Namaste in East London then I was in for a vibrant, bold and tasty treat.
Nestled in the heart of Waterloo, Assado is light, colourful and surprisingly large and relaxed. The decor and the menu reflected the Goan, Portugese and Brazilian fusion; I felt immediately at ease in the casual settings of the restaurant and welcoming reception from the staff.
My friends and I were seated almost instantly and after pondering over the menu for at least ten minutes I had persuaded my friends to all get starters. They ordered a variety of flavoured naans with various fillings and anchoivies; I ordered a starter of prawns ‘a’la Goa/Portugesa’ which was described as: chopped prawns in a cream sauce filled in savoury pastry, crumbed fried and served on an Azores goats cheese dressing. What I imagined (in my excitement at the words ‘fried’ and ‘cheese’) was a large, oozing creamy prawn-filled chimichanga like parcel breaded and deep fried and smothered with lashings of fatty goaty milky goodness.
Disappointingly, what I received were two small gyoza-shaped, dumpling-sized parcels filled with prawns so finely chopped that I wasn’t quite sure whether there were any prawns at all and a cream sauce which had disappeared and evaporated. The conservative amount of Azores goats cheese dressing was served in a small dipping pot which I could have quickly devoured in one big lick. The naan starters were undeniably tasty however they had been served in a basket lined with blue napkins which the cheesy naans had stuck to trapping all the goodness and tempting me to eat bits of cheesy napkins.
Our mains quickly followed our starters; three of us opted for the lamb Xacuti and garlic rice, a curry which I had eaten before and was described on the menu as ‘probably the most complicated curry in the world’. The portions were generous; the aroma hypnotizing; our mouths were watering as we politely waited for each other’s dishes to arrive.
The sauce of the lamb Xacuti was bold, rich and had a heat that slowly intensified with every mouthful. The sauce was wonderful and did not disappoint however the lamb itself was inconsistent; there were mouth-wateringly soft pieces of baby sheep falling to pieces without even having to chew and then there were pieces that felt as if it had been throw in ten minutes before the end and had just about cooked. The garlic rice was not as garlicky as I would have wanted but that said I could probably use a whole bulb for one meal.
It pains me to say (because I’m such a big fan of Cyrus and Café Spice Namaste) that overall I was disappointed with my meal. Perhaps it was the association with a celebrity chef or high expectations that had built up in my head about Assado but sadly, although the curry might have been chilli, the food definitely did not blow my mind away. With restaurants like Dishoom and Tayaabs in London delivering great curries for half the price, Assado could really turn it up a few notches.