Paladar, a creative restaurant, wine bar and bodega showcasing the best of Latin America, has opened in SE1. Aiming to serve as ‘a centre of excellence for Latin America in London’, Paladar brings together food, drink, art and music from across the region.
Latin America is made up of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of South and Central America including some Caribbean islands such as Cuba. In both languages, ‘paladar’ means ‘palate’, referring to taste, appetite and an appreciation of the finer things in life. In Cuba, a paladar is also a small, privately-run restaurant with character, giving Paladar’s name dual meaning.
The menu takes an inventive ‘mix and match’ approach to Latin American flavours, drawing most inspiration from Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru. Brazil’s influence is felt through music and cocktails; Argentina and Chile are well represented through wines; while Cuba and Nicaragua bring to the party rum and cigars.
Chef Jose Rubio-Guevara’s menu, which is entirely gluten-free and includes many vegetarian and vegan choices, is divided into five sections: Nibbles; The Sea; The Farm; The Land; and Sweet Endings. Dishes are sized to encourage sharing and discovery of new tastes. Whilst the flavours and ingredients are authentic to the region, the menu is not intended to be specific to any one country; some of Chef Jose’s favourite dishes include:
- Cassava fritters with mora compote and tamarind sauce
- Tuna tartare with taro crisp and chipotle mayonnaise
- Caribbean lamb Stew with sweet potatoes and mint
- Sweetcorn, quinoa, chipotle and crumbled home-made cheese
- Blue corn churros with coffee dulce de leche and chocolate sauce
The exclusively Latin American wine-list, hand-picked by Ecuador-born sommelier Rafael Cabezas-Castro, offers quality wines not just from Argentina and Chile, but also from Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and even Mexico. Ordering by the glass is encouraged as a means of discovering less-familiar varieties. Spirits are sourced with similar care, with a range of piscos, mezcals, tequilas, cachaças and rums alongside some less well-known gems from the region, to be enjoyed both on their own and in creative cocktails.
Wines and spirits can be bought to take home from the Bodega, which also stocks single-origin coffees, craft chocolate, cigars and other Latin American specialities. For evenings, an eight-seat chef’s table affords an entertaining view into the open kitchen. The Bodega will also play host to wine and spirit tastings, presentations from wine makers and food and wine-pairing events.
In addition to the fifty-cover restaurant and the Bodega, Paladar’s bar counter offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine with light dishes and ceviches. The courtyard garden, offering comfortable outdoor seating and al fresco dining, will open in the Spring.
Paladar is situated at historic St George’s Circus, London’s first purpose-built traffic intersection, where a landmark obelisk milestone shows it to be exactly one mile from Fleet Street, London Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. The area to the south is home to a large Latin American community, placing Paladar both geographically and culturally at a crossroads between the communities it serves.
The eclectic menu and ambience of Paladar reflect the diversity of the team behind it. Chef Jose Rubio-Guevara is Colombian, grew up in Miami and has lived for many years in London; sommelier, Rafael Cabezas-Castro, is Ecuadorian; front-of-house manager, Yalain Pita-Salomon, is Cuban while bar manager, Cedric Gautier hails from France. Founder and director, Charles Tyler, was behind the popular Malay-Asian restaurant Champor-Champor in Bermondsey and is a resident of SE1; his former business partner there, Adu Amran, is consultant chef. Adu also painted the striking mural “Rays of Paladar” which adorns the rear wall of the restaurant.
Says Charles of his new venture, “When I first travelled around Latin America in 2013 I was blown away by the delicious local cuisine, the quality of the wines and spirits, the friendly people and the energy and zest of the region. Ever since, the thought of showcasing the products and experiences I found was never far from my mind. I am delighted to have now opened Paladar, and with it a window into the world of Latin America, in the heart of London.”