A new vegetarian restaurant in East Sheen is a delight in taste if not décor, says Sara Tricker.
I warmly welcome this vegetarian restaurant to the Richmond/Sheen area – with two vegan millennials in my family, Oliveira increases our choice of places to eat! Opened just three months ago by Brazilian Chef, Amelio de Oliveira, it offers ‘modern living inspired vegetarian food with strong roots in old traditions’. Amelio states that his greatest challenge is cooking vegetarian food which is also interesting to non-vegetarians, and I would say he is succeeding!
The menu, which regularly includes new dishes, offers a wide variety of choices drawn from cooking cultures across the world. These include Polish Pierogi, Korean Dim Sum, Cuban hotpot and Norse Aubergine.
We visited on a Saturday evening with a little trepidation – they don’t take bookings, and this makes planning for a group a little risky. We were seated straight away, but the 25-30 seat restaurant was nearly full within the hour.
We shared all our dishes starting with Garlic Sourdough (£3) – delicious, Rosemary Bruscheta (£5), which was toasted and topped with tomatoes and basil. The Mandoo (£6,) – Korean dim sum stuffed with kimchi – was beautifully presented but, unfortunately, a little bland in flavour. The Grilled English Asparagus and Confit Heirloom Tomatoes (£7), was disappointingly small and plain.
Our service throughout the evening was attentive and friendly from both the waiting staff and the chef. There are several dishes on the menu which include Jack and Breadfruit and upon asking, we were shown the fruit in all its forms and explained how they are cooked – fascinating!
We had to try the most popular main course – Breadfruit Curry £11, roasted breadfruit and legumes in a thick coconut curry, served with jasmine rice (vegan, gluten free). This was delicious and prettily presented. The Potaje De Panapen (£12) – Cuban style hotpot, breadfruit and chickpeas (vegan, gluten free) was good but very spicy!
We couldn’t resist the Espeto (£11) – grilled breadfruit skewers in hot Brazilian peanut and chilli sauce, grezzina zucchini fritters in plantain flour with pumpkin chilli sauce (vegan, gluten free). The courgette fritters were deliciously crisp and worked well with the peanut and pumpkin sauces to dip into. We also tried White Spiced (£11), an interesting mix of caramelized potatoes and yams, sautéed in coconut oil, crisp parsnip, cauliflower, white chocolate and horseradish sauce. We couldn’t identify the white chocolate but enjoyed the ‘mushroom like’ texture and flavours.
We indulged in three of the six available desserts, (£6). Dark Amazonian Chocolate Fudge (vegan) was devoured by the chocoholics amongst us. The Passion Fruit and Mango Torte was unfortunately light on flavour; however, the Banoffe Pie was suitably gooey and readily despatched.
Oliveira is a great addition to the area, the ingredients are organic and locally sourced (wherever possible), the dishes are skilful, imaginative and interestingly presented. However, whilst the welcome by staff is warm, I don’t feel that this is reflected in the décor which is very plain, brightly lit and much more suited to a day-time café. I would love to see tablecloths and candle light next time we visit!
469 Upper Richmond Road, SW14 7PU