For many people I’m sure, going to Rio De Janeiro for Carnival is high on their bucket list. However, if you can’t make it to Brazil for the big event, then why not enjoy a taste of the Carnival in London?
Brazilian restaurant, bar and club Guanabara are hosting a week of Carnival-themed celebrations from 11-17 February 2015. Revellers will be able to enjoy Brazilian food and drink – including the famous Caipirinha cocktails – while watching entertainment from top percussionists, bands, samba dancers and Capoeira artists.
The festivities kick off with a special carnival edition of ‘Circo do Guanabara’ on 11 February, featuring Basil live percussion, circus acts, Rosa Nazira samba experience and DJ Bruno, with ‘Samba School Madness with Rhythms of the City’ following on 13 February.
One of the highlights of the week is the ‘Opening Party and Carnival Parade’ on 12 February, featuring the London School of Samba, DJ D.vyzor, Basil, Samara Reis Dance Co. and DJ Limao. The action kicks off at 5pm and goes on until the early hours of 2.30am.
On Valentine’s Day, couples and singles are both welcome to party at the Masked Ball, featuring entertainment from Guanabara Samba & Capoeira All-Stars, DJ D.vyzor, Basil, DJ Limao and Paraiso School of Samba.
During the festivities, Chef Leandro de Oliveira will be offering a special menu of carnival favourites, focusing on a selection of popular Brazilian street food dishes. Tickets during Carnival week range from free to £12, but it’s recommended to book in advance through the website.
- Guanabara, Parker Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5PW. Nearest tube: Holborn or Covent Garden. For more information, visit the Guanabara website.
To find out what else is on in London this month, click here.
In 2012, SushiSamba finally made its long-awaited arrival in London. Situated towards the top of the Heron Tower in the City of London, the restaurant is a welcome and unique addition to the city’s dining scene, with its fusion of Brazilian, Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Like many women of my age, I first heard of SushiSamba on an episode of seminal TV show Sex And The City when the New York venue featured in a scene. I remember admiring the venue and hoping to visit one day. While I’ve never got round to visiting SushiSamba on my New York trips, I did enjoy a meal at the Las Vegas branch at the Palazzo last October and was enthralled (read Metro Girl’s review of Vegas and its SushiSamba here.
This month, I finally got round to booking a table at SushiSamba London. Over a year after it opened, SushiSamba is still hugely popular so you need to book far in advance for peak times. I booked a table for five (four weeks in advance) to celebrate my mother’s birthday, opting for a Sunday lunchtime slot. One thing that sets the London branch apart from its international ‘sisters’ are the stunning views from the 38th and 39th floors from the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate.
Upon arrival at the entrance to the Heron Tower, we were shown to the lift, where we were whizzed up in moments to the 38th floor – be ready for your ears to pop! Before reaching the restaurant, we passed through the bar area, featuring one of SushiSamba’s three kitchens, seats and tables on both the 38th and 39th floor atrium with views looking over the City of London looking west over the capital. Upon entering the dining room, we were shown to a semi-booth facing outwards with views over East London, including the Olympic Stadium.
To start, we spent ages perusing the extensive cocktail, wine and sake list. There are some imaginative cocktails, averaging around £12-£13 each, with bottles on the wine list starting from £26. We opted for a bottle of El Muro Macabeo, a really lovely, fruity Spanish white featuring peach, apple and citrus.
SushiSamba’s food menu is quite unique – there are three separate kitchens, with many of the dishes being served in smaller ‘tapas’ style servings, or some large plates for those who want to keep their meal to themselves. Fortunately, my party were up for a culinary adventure and decided to order a variety of dishes from the ‘Small Plates’, ‘Robata’ and ‘Aperitivos’ sections of the menu. One of my particular favourites was the Rock Shrimp Tempura served with snap pea julienne, spicy mayonnaise, black truffle vinaigrette. SushiSamba’s version of Calamari – Chicarron De Calamar – was totally sumptuous. The batter was thinner than usual, with less oil, leaving the flavour of the squid coming through, fusing nicely with the fried plantain, tomatoes, onion, mint and tamarind.
The Peruvian kebabs were also very popular amongst my party. The salmon, in particular, was cooked in a way I had never had before, with orange miso and peruvian dark chocolate giving a unique flavour sensation from the fusion of savoury and sweet. Despite the volume of food we had, we weren’t left with that horrible ‘stuffed’ feeling, but rather content. Our party was unanimous in our praise of the unique combinations of dishes, each rich in flavour in their own individual way. Despite the variety of plates, they all complemented each other well. I’ve eaten in some of London’s best restaurants over the years, but personally, I would consider SushiSamba one of my new favourites.
Finally to finish, we ended up sharing Chocolate Banana Cake, served with maple butter, plantain chip and vanilla rum ice cream – a delicious, but light pudding providing a perfect end to an amazing lunch. Overall, my party were unanimous that it was one of the best dining experiences we had had in London. The combination of views, food and service made it an enjoyable and relaxing culinary adventure. While admittedly it cost a bit more than a usual meal out, it’s the perfect location for a special occasion.
- SushiSamba London, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Tel: 0203 640 7330. Nearest tube: Liverpool Street. For more information and booking, visit the SushiSamba London website.
For Metro Girl’s review of SushiSamba’s sister restaurant upstairs Duck & Waffle, click here.
For a list of all Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.