Now, I’m quite at home with a KFC or Nandos, but when a new restaurant from a two Michelin-starred chef hands you a plate, you don one of your nicest ‘fits and sit up straight on that table. Despite its credentials though, I must say Bossa wasn’t overly stuffy; I’d have felt totally at ease in jeans and a nice top.
Brazilian restaurant Bossa is the first London restaurant from the multi-award-winning, globally-renowned chef, Alberto Landgraf; his restaurant in Rio de Janeiro, Oteque, boasts not one, but two Michelin stars, and is placed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, so I had high hopes from the get go. I’m pleased to say that the food didn’t disappoint.
Decor, drinks and food at Bossa
Bossa sits on a road just off of Oxford Street, moments away from Bond Street station. The interiors are fresh and modern, and despite the space being fairly intimate, the floor-to-ceiling windows and general layout of booths and tables give it a more airy feel. There is even a private dining area with glass walls that overlook row upon row of wine from esteemed winemakers.
I was sat in a booth that looked right into the open kitchen – though there is bar seating if you’d like an even closer look. The chefs aim to bring the soul of Brazil to the British capital; and for me, that meant starting off with a traditional Caipirinha. While it was enjoyable, the bartenders took it to the next level with the Mezscladinha, a mezcal-based twist on the original – I could do with one of those right now! It was clear a lot of work had gone into creating a suitable drinks menu; for example, the mojitos are made with bespoke mint-infused soda, rather than muddling the mint at the bottom of the drink. It gave it a lighter, more refreshing taste.
Trying all these drinks required food; and I can see why Alberto Landgraf’s Brazillian restaurant garnered Michelin stars. Many of his dishes here in London are inspired by Northern Brazil, specifically regions near the Amazon – and as such, keep their Portuguese names as there isn’t always a direct English translation. I tried a selection of starting dishes, each pretty stand out in their own right. The fore rib tartare presented a variety of flavour and textures, with shredded shiitake mushrooms adding some extra flair; the bone marrow texture was initially offputting, but the flavour? Sensationally salty and went so well with the tapioca pancakes.
My favourites though were the scallops, which were cooked to perfection, with a tart sauce that complimented the light sweetness of the scallop, and the oh-so-juicy mussels. Innovation is clear in the cooking of this dish: the jus uses carrot and it is DIVINE. Even after the mussels were finished, I continued to dip my bread. I wish I could have bottled it up and taken it home.
As for the mains, let me get straight to it, as I gave it away in the title of this article: the crispy pork belly is to die for. That first forkful of all the elements on my plate had my eyes almost popping out of my head. First off, the pork itself is smooth like butter and just melts in the mouth, while the crackling is super light, almost like a wafer. Then, with the stew peas-esque feijoada broth (shout out to my fellow Caribbeans who know the deliciousness of stew peas) and marinated Swiss chard, good God it had everything. A little spice, a variation of texture. Alone, these elements were tasty, but together on the fork? Exceptional. Sides are available too, but this crispy pork belly stole the show for me.
There are various desserts available, making use of exemplary produce, like fruit and nuts. I really enjoyed the chocolate tart, with cashew nut praline; it was rich and not overly sweet. In fact, it would have gone really well with a vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet.
The underground bar: Maroto
Opened even more recently than the restaurant (June 2023), Maroto (meaning “naughty” in Portuguese) is a luxe underground bar sitting under Bossa. Open from 9pm, Thursday to Saturday, the spot is well hidden, accessed by stairs and a labyrinth of doors. The sumptuous setting gives off ‘private members club’ vibes with its lush, 1920s-esque decor, low lighting, and glamourously dressed staff. It is chalk and cheese to the atmosphere in the dining area upstairs.
While I stopped by pretty early, and stayed only for a couple of drinks after my meal, I could tell it would get wild later into the evening. The bar boasts a 5am license – hard to come by in the capital – the house music was pumping, and the staff couldn’t do enough for you. After an even bigger Caipirinha than upstairs in Bossa, and a berry-sweet Brazilian 75, I was on my way with promises to return again in future.
Fact: Bossa and Maroto are places for a real treat – hey, Michelin-starred chefs come with Michelin star prices – but it’s one I feel is worth it for a special occasion. I will be thinking about some of those starters, and of course my beloved crispy pork belly, for a while to come; a mark of a good meal.