Amazonico brings the heart of the rainforest to Berkeley Square
Discover the rich culinary heritage of the Amazon in the heart of London's fine dining district
In one of London’s most sought-after squares, a sprawling 9,000 square foot site that formerly housed the Allied Irish Bank has been transformed into one of the capital’s most highly-anticipated restaurants of the moment.
Spanish restaurateurs Santo da Silva and Marta Santos, in partnership with the group behind Roka, Zuma and Coya, have launched their latest venture, Amazónico, thus cementing Berkeley Square’s reputation as London’s go-to postcode for fine dining with more than a touch of glitz.
Following the success of its original site in Madrid - well-known for its sophisticated jungle décor and high-profile clientele - the team behind Amazónico set out to bring “Latin American warmth and energy” to London: and they have done so in no half measures.
The restaurant itself is vast, both in square footage and in character: upon entering, the attention of my every sense was commanded. First of all, by the sheer spectacle: a vast rainforest interior of plush, verdant greens with gold details; the kitchen separated with a colossal glass wall providing full exposure of spit-roasting pineapples and generous steak cuts ready for the Josper grill.
The layout of the restaurant left me feeling that I had found myself in a particularly glamorous corner of South America, if not the Amazon itself, designed as it is with a curvaceous flow - a nod to the river of the restaurant’s namesake - and featuring plenty of natural and raw materials (including a panoply of live plants, wood and stoneware) along the way. If in doubt, the rainforest sounds played in the bathroom left me in no uncertain terms as to my geographical location. >>
The rich culinary heritage of the Amazon - influenced by cultures as diverse as Japan, China and India - is interwoven throughout the menu. Our choices for the evening were decidedly sea-food centric, beginning with Hamachi Tiradito - thinly sliced yellowtail served with passion fruit and shies leaves, and a traditional guacamole theatrically prepared at table-side, featuring sea urchin as its star ingredient.
Delighted by the fresh, zingy flavours of our starters, and quickly realising that the bold elegance of Amazónico’s facade was very much matched by the talent in the kitchen, we proceeded with perfectly-cooked Patagonian black hake and melt-in-the-mouth stone bass encrusted in quinoa. All of this was enjoyed to the rhythm of the nightly live jazz band performance - which we agreed was a welcome excuse to eschew polite dinner conversation in favour of devouring the complex and delightful flavours of the Amazon.
Given that, like the Amazon, London’s identity is forged in the crucible of myriad cultures and shared histories, Amazónico’s arrival to the city seems fitting, and with its infectious Latin energy, it should have no problem fitting in with the locals.