Garfo Douro, Tonbridge, 7 September 2018
*** Since writing this blog, Garfo Douro has had to close. They are currently looking for a new site. ***
I have been so excited about writing this review and sharing with you my really lovely evening at Garfo Douro. My friend and I were very kindly invited by chef Jose and the Garfo Douro marketing manager Zoe to come and see and, of course, taste what all the fuss is about. If you haven’t heard, it’s very popular.
Avebury Avenue - the signage is a bit dirty but with a Mexican (El Mariachi), an Indian (Gurkha Planet) and now a Portuguese restaurant, it’s definitely becoming very cosmopolitan. Garfo Douro is so colourful that it can’t be missed, the façade painted in the colours of the Portuguese flag and with ‘PORTUGUESE RESTAURANT’ emblazoned across the top. No dispute as to the type of cuisine! The interior is still very Shamo’s (the previous occupants) but over time, I’m sure it’ll be updated to suit the restaurant’s style and clientele.
Chef Jose is Portuguese and has worked all over Europe, most recently more locally in Signor Franco’s (now The Warren) and The Grey Lady in Tunbridge Wells. His cooking is really authentic and reminds me of summer holidays on the Algarve, one of my family’s favourite destinations. He works alone so it might take a little while but you can tell that he takes great pride in his kitchen and what he’s serving - definitely quality over rushed-food-to-seat-more-covers-later. You can see your food being freshly prepared and as we did, enjoy the delicious Portuguese wine. I highly recommend the Cabriz.
The starters are very seafood based which suited me perfectly but I appreciate may not be to everyone’s taste, and there’s also a lot of chorizo. I had the squid and chorizo whereas my friend had the scallops and chorizo (fish coming from Sankey’s the Fishmonger). Both were cooked to perfection - no rubbery squid or undercooked scallops - and combined with the dressing were sooo good. The kind of dish that you don’t want to end and if you were at home, you’d be mopping up the plate with some crusty bread.
Zoe had recommended the beef skewers to me for my main course and my friend chose sardines - you can’t get much more Portuguese than that! The beef skewers were plentiful and tasty in their garlic and herb marinade with the medallion chips and salad but the sardines stole the show - they were fantastic! They tasted fresh, of the sea and with a citrus ‘zing’ - they really were finger licking good!
Despite being pretty full, ever generous Jose brought us baked peaches and ice cream for dessert over which he poured Beirao, a Portuguese liqueur with a mellow but warming flavour. And then of course, a little glass of Port, another great Portuguese export.
It is a very intimate dining experience at Garfo Douro - in the evening it’s dimly lit, Portuguese music playing very softly in the background. Jose caters for children and will make smaller versions of adult dishes if requested. They are also allergy friendly - just make sure, as with anywhere, you mention it to the serving staff or Jose himself when booking or ordering.
I had a really super evening here and would urge you all to go. As I said, it’s proving to be very popular and many Fridays it’s fully booked.
Garfo Douro kindly paid for our meal but the food would have come to approximately £46. The Cabriz is £17.75.