Assado (“roast”) opened in March 2014, a rather unusual departure for Cyrus Todiwala of Café Spice Namaste. Rather than a curry house, this restaurant serves a mixture of Portuguese and Goan cuisine. This has some culinary logic given that Portugal controlled Goa for 450 years, and given that the local cuisine has been influenced by this colonial background.
Situated on the busy Waterloo Road and linked to a Hilton Hotel, Assado has quite a casual feel. There was an open kitchen, tables without tablecloths, walls decorated with coloured tiles, and a few booths to the side of the array of tables. The large room can seat up to 115 diners at any one time. There was a short and pretty basic wine list of less than two dozen choices, no vintages being listed, the wines ranging in price for £22.50 to £43 for a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne, which is actually a very reasonable price for a wine that costs around £37 in the high street.
Soup (£3.95) of potato, leek and spinach had an oddly gloopy texture, as it if had been thickened with corn flour, and seemed entirely lacking in seasoning. The stock was rather watery to boot, so the result was bland and disappointing (8/20).
Pulled pork sandwich (£8) had pork in sourdough toast, bulked out with tomato and cucumber; supposedly there was chilli, garlic and coriander here too, but the spices were very restrained. The pork itself lacked the smoky flavour that really good pulled pork (such as that at Pitt Cue) can have, the meat tender but lacking flavour and seasoning (11/20).
Pork vindaloo (£13.95) was made using British pork and was quite good, the pork reasonably tender. If I compare this to the same dish that I have eaten in Goa, a key difference is that the version at Assado lacked sufficient vinegar punch. However, it was entirely pleasant, served with rice and a little onion salad (12/20).
A curry of cabbage and potato (£11.75) had a potato bhaji with a lightly spiced sauce, with spiced shredded cabbage served to one side. The cabbage lacked flavour, and although the fried potato ball was decent, the dish overall needed more spice (11/20). A plain naan was pleasant enough, as well it might be at £3.95, if a little over doughy in texture (11/20).
The best dish of the meal was a dessert of custard tart (£6.50). This was baked fresh, had custard with a hint of vanilla and nice pastry (13/20). Coffee was Musetti, a brand which is available in different levels of quality. Judging from the result here I assume this was a low-end one, since the coffee lacked flavour.
Service from our Slovenian waitress was very good. The bill, with beer and mineral water to drink, came to £35 a head before tip. If you drank wine then a typical bill with three courses and coffee plus tip would come to around £50 a head. Overall I found the cooking rather erratic and generally uninspiring, though the custard tart was genuinely good.