8 Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
Phone: 020 7062 2052
8 Patriot Square, the address of the Town Hall Hotel, has a great pedigree in things food. It was home to Nuno Mendez’ Viajante and Lee Westcott’s Typing Room. Now two chefs with Latin American soul and lots of ambition made it their home and are offering food that is intense, beautiful, smart and calls for more.
Just as the place itself, also the two chefs – Paulo Airaudo and Rafael Cagali – have a great background. The Italian Argentinian Airaudo, who was raised within a family obsessed with food, left his home country to experience different kitchens of Peru, Mexico and many European countries to learn from the best. After gaining experience in some of the worlds best restaurants, in 2015, he co-created La Bottega – a modern trattoria in the historic part of Geneva. He left the project in 2017 (after he already gained a Michelin star) to open in San Sebastian his solo project Amelia. Amelia, named after his daughter, gained a Michelin star soon after opening and Paulo’s name became well known in the food world worldwide. His food imperium is growing with the new openings, his last (for now) being Da Terra in London, opened exactly a week ago. (I was there for the soft opening)
Rafael Cagali left his original Brazil at 21 to work under the orders of greater Chefs such as Heston Blumenthal at ‘The Fat Duck’, Martín Berasategui and Quique Dacosta. Paulo and Rafael met at Fat Duck and remained in touch since then. When Paulo needed a chef for his new London opening, he knew who to call. The restaurant is a partnership of both.
Dishes at Da Terra carry the DNA of both chefs. They are Latin America inspired dishes with an Italian heart, showing the roots and palate of Airaudo and Cagali. And they are delicious. Comforting and complex at the same time. Intense, indulgent and fresh. My personal favourites – the sardine with beetroot and creme fraiche – where the sea meets the soil: umami with earthy flavours, enhanced with a beautiful acidity. The scallop with so much freshness and flavour! And the chicken in three forms – the egg, the meat and the crispy skin. At the end I mopped up the rests on the plate with a piece of bread. Too good to leave even a single drop!
Da Terra is a beautiful new addition to the blooming London scene. Looking forward to returning.