I lived in London for many years. Going home to Portugal meant three things: 1) seeing family; 2) much needed sunshine and 3) real Portuguese food. And whilst I never really found a trendy restaurant in London that served authentic Portuguese food when I lived there, Londoners now get to enjoy Madeiran cooking in the English capital at a brand new restaurant. London friends and readers: if you are ever craving Portuguese comfort food in a cool environment, look no further than Caco & Co.
Most Londoners tend to equate Portuguese food with a cheeky Nando’s at lunch time or on a weekend. I’d really like to see a change in people’s perceptions there, so that they stop associating Portuguese food with places like Nando’s, and start to think of restaurants like Caco & Co. For starters, Caco & Co is authentic: not only in its recipes but also in its ingredients – the meat, for example, comes from Madeira or mainland Portugal. To me, this already makes a world of a difference. You can tell the owners care about authenticity and sharing those flavors with others.
Caco & Co gets its name from Madeira’s classic bread, bolo do caco. At Caco & Co, they serve it in the traditional manner with garlic butter. My mouth is watering just remembering it. While you wait for your food, enjoy some fluffy cod croquetes or some Portuguese Iberian black pig presunto. Their cooked chouriço is amazing and it’s served with mayo on the side. Now that I’ve been introduced to this combination, I’m a convert and you will be too!
For the main – if you can still eat after all the starters – try one of the tasty prego sandwiches served in, of course, bolo do caco. This is real Portuguese soul food. To wash all this delicious food down, make sure you try the traditional poncha. I don’t know any other place in London that serves it, so drinking it feels like a special treat.
And even though food is obviously the most important aspect of a restaurant, Caco & Co is more than just a place to fill up on Madeiran food. The ambiance is relaxed without being ordinary. It’s charming without being pretentious. It combines traditional elements with a modern feel. For example, food and coffee is served in Portuguese china with cork bases. It’s these little touches that make the place unique. You can see the friendly Madeiran chefs at work in the open kitchen, and you can salivate over the ham leg on display. The various elements of Caco & Co come together to make the place very authentic; you almost forget you’re in London… until you look out the window, of course.
I have yet to try Caco & Co’s breakfast foods but I can certainly recommend going there for lunch on a weekend. Because it has so many small dishes that can be shared, it’s an ideal spot for going with a group of friends. That way, everyone can try a little bit of everything. Your friends will thank you.
You can enjoy Madeiran fare at Caco & Co‘s Shepherd’s Bush location right now, but a new location is opening near Southwark tube station before the end of the year, which is really great news for my friends south of the river. Needless to say, next time I’m in London I’ll be stopping there, for blog research purposes, naturally…