Londrino is the brainchild of Portuguese chef, Leandro Carreira; hence the restaurant's name which means "Londoner" in Portuguese. Carreria has worked at some of the world's most renowned restaurants including Mugaritz in San Sebastian and Lyle's in London's East End.
Despite Carreira's impressive track record, it was the restaurant's decor that cemented my decision to dine here. Designed by Nathalie Rozencawjg of Rare Architecture, the minimal space features textured concrete walls, Scandinavian inspired wooden furniture as well as floor to ceiling windows that allow natural light to flood the airy interior. Everything in the space signified the pared back sensibility of modern design. Even the glass doors at the entrance impressed me with their slick design; in the place of door handles were indented openings at the doors' edges. Such simple, elegant solutions to people's everyday needs constitute the core principles of functionalist design.
The restaurant's minimal essence was also present in its cuisine. The menu was incredibly concise and each dish featured few ingredients with little ornamentation. The ingredients simply appeared as they were, usually with a meat at the centre and a vegetable (or two) on the periphery. Although, I understand what Londrino stands for on an ideological level (purity of ingredients, refined flavours, craftmanship, etc.), these ideas did not speak to my taste buds. The food simply came off as too restrained and rather dull. Yes, the ingredients were excellent but I couldn't help but think that certain flavours were missing. Unlike Elystan Street's generous portions and bold flavouring, Londrino veered too far into the arena of subtlety. Even when certain dishes - particularly the langoustines in the onion broth - awoke the senses, the portions were so small that I felt robbed of my right to enjoy what I was paying for.
In summary, Londrino spoke to me as a concept and as an interior space but the food failed to impress me because of its exaggerated minimalism. Paradoxically, what I loved about Londrino's design was what I disliked about its cuisine. At the end of the day, one pays to be fed and to taste flavours. So, in my view, the concept of minimalism works less well in the field of the culinary arts; or maybe it ought to be realised differently from Carreira's vision.