A taste of Portugal in London

Ah, that post yesterday with the wooden wall tiles got me thinking about Portugal and our holidays there, and while I’m sure I’ve still got plenty of posts to share from our trips, not today. Instead it’s a taste of Portugal in London, and some from the decor - mostly from the loos, but not all from Bar Douro, and our pre-Christmas shopping visit last year.

Starting Christmas shopping with lunch is very civilised and makes actually going into shops much more bearable, although it’s dangerous too as there was a hint of rebellion when the shopping trip nearly didn’t happen, and dangerous too if it encourages a more laissez faire attitude to spending, or choosing gifts!

But anyway, the decor. Totally Portuguese, and totally lovely.

Stools lined up against the tile clad counter
copper lights and filament bulbs

Our spot in the restaurant was under this light and looking out of its front window, which meant we could indulge in a spot of people watching, and quite legitimately so. There’s nothing better is there?

Actually this photo has reminded me that we can’t go back here just yet - as much as I want to - as it will no doubt prompt MOH to start (yet another) dining room light conversation. He’s keen to have a more modern light above our table, and I’m not against it, we just haven’t found the right one yet. We got close, and I was very tempted with a more industrial pipe light (not its technical name, my descriptive name) but i struggled with the idea of not having a light in the centre of the table for most of the time - and as the light was a straight line light (see brackets above) I thought it’d be quite noticeable, if you know what I mean. Well, I hope you followed that anyway…

We could go back and ogle the tiles though and try to avoid all new light conversations.

Blue and white tiles by the sink in the loos

As well as the ‘to be expected’ Portuguese tiles in the loo, there was plenty of quirkiness. The mirrors and the lights for starters. Despite the look on my face I’m a fan of the almost there paint effect, whereas MOH would be itching to rub that down.

mirrors with character
A light with a difference in the loos

The lights, either side of the mirrors, were fantastically peculiar. I’m not sure how they gave out any light at all, especially in a dark walled loo, which I think could be a first in the Loo Series, and it clearly wasn’t the brightest of loos but it was perfectly acceptable lighting level wise.

The artwork featured the Algarve and Porto, the latter a good reminder of our trip to Porto and the Douro valley a few months before. I’ve not been to the Algarve, but we’ve been to the Alentejo region next door, which is where we fell in love with the country and has a relaxed and naturalistic vibe. I’m getting itchy feet to visit both again, and that’s before we’ve still made it to Lisbon.

Not making it to Lisbon has become a bit of a family in-joke, it’s somewhere that’s been on my list for a while but just hasn’t happened. Though it seems the rest of my family have managed at least one trip there themselves, and at one point my brother and my parents were both there almost at the same time, they said without planning it - but one day I’ll get there, I’m sure.

artwork and a quirky cupboard
A textured corner of a picture frame

To console myself with the lack of Lisbon trips, I’ll end on a close up of that mirror frame, because let’s be honest, I’m more likely to get to Lisbon than persuade MOH to have something as rustic as this in our house. And if I did I’m sure I’d have to ban sandpaper!

PoCoLo

Dinner at Bill's in Greenwich

What better way than to deal with the darker evenings than head out for a celebratory dinner? And that’s just what we did on Tuesday after the team at Bill’s got in touch. They’ve recently refurbished their restaurant in Greenwich and invited me along to experience it for myself. Working in Greenwich, I’ve walked past the restaurant many a time and having spotted they were having some work done, made a mental note to pop in at some point. Of course, I promptly forgot - my brain’s even more of a sieve than normal at the moment, and so I was pleased to have the perfect excuse to take a closer peek at their new look.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

Lights feature heavily in the decor, and the whole effect is characteristically quirky - the decor I mean - if you’re here to learn about the food, I wasn’t disappointed with that either. Sometimes I struggle to choose off a menu, but it was good to be torn between a couple of the options. I deliberated for a while, but in the end went for the burger as I often think you can tell a lot about a restaurant by its burger. This one with the extra cheese and bacon was good, and MOH helped me finish it all (and his own meal too).

LARGE SHADES, DARK NIGHTS

LARGE SHADES, DARK NIGHTS

My photos don’t do the space justice, but it’s cosy with multiple light sources which you’ll know I think is important for any space. When we arrived at the restaurant we were pleasantly surprised to find it moderately occupied, it’s always a worry isn’t it on an early in the week night, that it might just be you and the staff in the place, but that wasn’t the case.

In fact arriving from a chilly, dark evening our welcome couldn’t have been more different. All of the staff were cheery and friendly in a way that felt genuine rather than forced, and that says a lot about the team at Bill’s. That’s hard to achieve and make natural if it isn’t, or if staff aren’t happy - we’ve all been to restaurants where they plaster on a smile and go through the motions, and this wasn’t that place.

INDUSTRIAL VENTING, AND WHAT LOOKS LIKE A STATION CLOCK

INDUSTRIAL VENTING, AND WHAT LOOKS LIKE A STATION CLOCK

MANY DIFFERENT LIGHT SOURCES, ALL OF WHICH I ADMIRED

MANY DIFFERENT LIGHT SOURCES, ALL OF WHICH I ADMIRED

We shared a calamari and Bill’s spiced tortillas to start and both didn’t hang around for long. I remembered to take some pictures of the food, yes I know that makes a change, but that all went out the window when our main courses arrived; mine was a burger with the trimmings and MOH opted for the pan-fried chicken with truffle and wild mushrooms. I didn’t need to ask him if it was good, as he wasn’t for sharing and that’s usually what it means, and I wasn’t wrong.

CALAMARI

CALAMARI

PRETTY CROCKERY

PRETTY CROCKERY

TEALIGHTS

TEALIGHTS

GIANT TORTILLAS

GIANT TORTILLAS

Of course, I was keen to check out the loos. Not only because that’s a good indicator of elsewhere in the restaurant, but also because given the decor downstairs, the signs were good. Once I got upstairs, the signs were better; the upstairs dining space had an air of a twenties-inspired French restaurant to me, with the same lights from the downstairs space used again here for continuity.

DINING ELEGANTLY

DINING ELEGANTLY

A COSY TABLE FOR TWO

A COSY TABLE FOR TWO

The loos had their own personality too with their almost arsenic green walls and gilt mirrors. The space was relatively small so I couldn’t stretch to its own #LooSeries post with just two photos, but perhaps on another visit. As I’m sure I’ll be back, whether it’s a team lunch, a night after work with my girlfriends, or with MOH after work when a decent meal is needed, but neither of us want to cook - I’m not the only ones that has evenings like that, am I?

OF COURSE I CHECKED OUT THE LOOS!

OF COURSE I CHECKED OUT THE LOOS!

YOU EXPECTED ME TOO, RIGHT?

YOU EXPECTED ME TOO, RIGHT?

Remember that I said lights feature heavily in the decor? Well, that’s before I’d even seen this chandelier which hangs above the staircase. Isn’t it grand?

HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A CHANDELIER

HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A CHANDELIER

I said before the decor was full of character, but it’s also full of the unexpected. The chandelier above and the textured anaglypta-like bar below. I love this style, but I know it’s the style that makes MOH twitch, remember he is the man that tried to dust a bottle of wine once that had been given the “dust effect” treatment. I’m certain I’d struggle to swing this as decor in our own house, and so when we’re out it’s the kind of eclectic style I drool over.

AN ANAGLYPTA TEXTURED BAR

AN ANAGLYPTA TEXTURED BAR

BUTTERFLIES TOO

BUTTERFLIES TOO

Once I’d explored the restaurant, in my usual understated way (or at least I hope it was understated) the best dessert on the menu arrived, and clearly on the best plate of the restaurant too. Sticky toffee and date pudding which arrived with a golden date and clotted cream ice cream - I think we both had a moment where we wished we hadn’t agreed to share.

OFFICIALLY, THE BEST PUDDING (AND PLATE)

OFFICIALLY, THE BEST PUDDING (AND PLATE)

We had a great night, the restaurant had great ambience, the decor was just up my street, the service was good and MOH’s company was pretty good too. What’s even better is that the wait for the bus home was minimal too. I’m sure I’ll be going back to Bill’s and when we’re out and about I’ll be checking to see if they have restaurants nearby, hoping that they could match our “home” restaurant in Greenwich.

* With thanks to Bill’s Greenwich for the invitation to try out their recently refurbished restaurant. As usual all views in this collaborative post are my own.

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