Update since 2012:
Now more of a Portuguese restaurant it's definitely looking much more upscale than it did 2 years ago and with prices to match the new look.
I had the chorizo flambé. 2 big grilled delicious sausages that I can't wait to go back for, for 7 and the most delicious warm French bread for 3 to accompany the chorizo. Wonderful combo. Followed by the stuffed squid which was also delicious. These were on the Portuguese tapas menu.
We then shared a main to see what it was like and we were very disappointed.
We ordered the black rice with 3 prawn. It was tiny for a main, and for 12£ for tasteless black rice it was just ridiculous and yucky. Salt and pepper helped but we equated it to baby food, prison food, food you give geriatrics with no teeth. Just bad for the amount of money spent on such a tiny portion. Ugh. Just hated it! Especially after the first two dishes were amazing.
Also, the stew doesn't come with rice... Why would I pay £14 for stew only to have to pay 3£ for rice. Just make it 17 and be done with it. Ugh.
My advice, stick to tapas and wine.
I would recommend to do 'take away' at this place... Or actually, if you never go there, you will still live your life to the fullest potential without missing out on much...
My most vivid memory is the bathroom... Or journey to the bathroom.. With the waiter... It was not how it sounds however...
So I came in with a full bladder, which was a big mistake! The response to my 'Where is the bathroom?' was: 'Come with me!'... ehhmmm... Me and the waiter exited the restaurant, entered an abandoned corridor with stairs downstairs, looking like entrance to a dungeon.. We kept walking, turned left, right, right, left, walked along a hallway, then left and right and there I was.. The shopping centre public toilets...
However, I did whatever I needed to do and returned... My friend almost wanted to call police under the amount of time I spent starveling underground..
Anyway, I sat down to the menu and read.. Firstly we had delicious lemonade! Seriously fresh and delicious!
Then we were trying to figure out what to eat for about half an hour as nothing looked that very appealing...
So we got absolutely fantastic french bread (delivered by the french bakery next door!!!), stunning chorizo sausages, ok stuffed squid. It was so good, I wanted to change my mind!
But then, the main came... I just couldn't stop thinking: 'oh dear... oh dear...'
Tasteless black rice with 3 prawns... I hope the rice was made out of gold or something, because there was no love, cooking skill or flavour... It all tasted very much like a baby food/prison food.. And £12 for 3 prawns?? I felt ripped off...
In overall, I feel the people running the place were a tinsy bit too ambitious for their capability..
Sadly Canela failed to express me. I was taking into account that it was their soft launch after their revamp so I forgive the fact that they are probably still working on building an atmosphere. But food was also quite disappointing, lacking flavours and I quite agree with other reviews I've seen that this place is better off being a place for tea and a few nibbles than for a substantial meal.
I immediately agreed with this viewpoint the moment I saw the counter service with their desserts, nibbles and salad selection unevenly presented in a glass food display cabinet that I must say, did not look very attractive.
The rest of the decor was interesting. As plain as the overall restaurant perceived to be with the white walls contrasted by the dark leather seating and the simple pendant lights, it was also decorated with an eye catching chandelier, a vintage retro gold framed mirror and vintage radios.
However I did feel the natural lighting coming through reflected the emptiness even more especially on a cloudy day, exaggerated by the high ceiling. Would imagine this place to be more romantic in the evening when lighting comes from the lamps rather than outside.
Staff were nice though and very smiley and welcoming. They were very patience in guiding every customer to the toilet which was outside the building and shared among the other businesses around. They all looked like they came from the Portugal region which made the place feel more authentic and home like.
We started with a cheese platter with a selection of Portuguese Cheeses which was accompanied with grapes and guava paste. The cheese itself was very mild and not particularly memorable apart from the black pepper edged one which incredibly creamy and nicely spiced, Also as interesting was the guava paste which was soft and gummy like with a lovely sweetness that would have paired well with stronger cheeses.
The Sweet potato, coriander and red chilly was refreshing but lacked depth and seasoning. It would have been better to have cut it up into small chunks to allow the the other ingredients to combine to increase in flavour and texture. The dish was very average,
The rest of the food took a very long wait before arriving
The Pataniscas - Bacalhau fritters were one of the better starters, one with flavour with good seasoning and a nice salty edge from the salt cod. The texture was nice and varied and tasted fresh with a nice pairing of a herby mayo.
One of the most unusual dish had to be the Alheira mini burgers with quail eggs which was not as expected. It came in threes and although seasoned, were very subtle in flavours. It did however had a very acquired texture. The patties themselves were mashed into a soft pate like paste but when paired with that very much needed fried quailed egg it created a very interesting texture. It was interesting paired together but not something that particularly favours my palate.
Luckily one of mains managed to stir my taste buds and it was the Bacalhau à Bras- traditional mix of salt cod, potatoes and eggs. It wasn't strong in flavour but the salt cod was nicely balanced with a slight sweetness. It was presented beautifully in a cylinder shaped but it was the creamy, crunchy texture and the flakiness of the fish coming together that made this dish successful and moreish. Layer of textures coming together and finished nicely with a crispy top and a nice sharp savoury taste of the olives. But surely for £13 they could have been more generous.
Unfortunately the Guisado - Beef stew with poached egg and grilled Banana did not taste as exciting as it sounds. The beef stew itself was really lacking some sort of seasoning to lift it's flavour and with the couscous more of it's flavour was absorbed. It became far too plain and one noted and the pairing of the poached egg and banana did not add much to it.
When it am to desserts we were sad to find that the Portuguese egg tarts were sold out. So instead we went for the quidam which had a nice and strong essence of coconut and lemon custard. However better was the Brigadeiro - black chocolate ball which resembled very much like a dark chocolate truffle, incredibly creamy and rich.
Sadly there is nothing that was attractive enough to make me want to return to Canela. I really did admire them for their creativity in the dishes, bringing in a lot of dishes I personally never have seen before and enjoyable textures. But sadly nearly most of the dishes were lacking flavour and it wasn't very good value either.
However I did go during soft launch so things can change as they do have the potential.
Found a little piece of home beautifully tucked away in Covent Garden. Surprisingly I managed to actually get some nice weather here and after a long day exploring some of the most popular places around the city, I passed by this small (and cozy) spot and decided to give it a try.
The place is tiny but has a really nice feel to it, helped by the really nice choice of tables, huge windows facing the street and a beautiful display of their sweet and salty treats.
I ordered one of the most popular choices back home for an afternoon (or any time of day for that matter) snack: pão de queijo (or cheese ball) and a quindim for dessert (sorry but I can't remember its English name). Both were simply delicious and on par with some of the best I had back home! Definitely worth any £ spent on them and worth a visit if you'd like to try them.
I had an opportunity to talk to Wagner, who seemed to be one of the owners, and he was very nice and attentive.
Definitely recommended! Love it!
I've been to Canela several times with a friend for post dinner tea. I enjoy the fresh mint tea here, although I do have to question my sanity when I consider I'm paying quite a lot of money for what essentially is Leaves In Hot Water. That kind of makes it sound like the leaves are in trouble. Which I guess they are. Hence the expression. Hm I am tired today.
ANYHOO I've been curious to try the food and I enjoyed the feijoada here, I think it's my first time having it and I particularly enjoyed playing with the little dishes of food that came with it. Very nice comfort food, and not horribly expensive.
The service here could do with improvement - it's like after the pre theatre rush they just don't care anymore and you end up having to chase after them, which is annoying. The place ends up deserted which affects the atmosphere and I actually saw people come in and then leave again after a quick look around. Not sure what the business rationale for this might be - sell some more of your yummy food guys!
Ps chocolate fondant pretty nice
While it's a struggle to get a seat in many other Covent Garden cafes, the black laquered picnic benches of Canela usually often offer up a spare seat or two, so long as you don't mind sharing with randoms. The window seats are a great Seven Dials spot for people watching, but there's not much to look at inside if you've not nabbed one of the front row benches.
Despite being thousands of miles apart, Canela tries to do both Portuguese and Brazilian with their theme. Is this like trying a Canadian and English cafe? Perhaps. What is does guarantee at least is classics like dark chocolate puddings and custard tarts as well as red wine and hot chocolate.
The tractor beam that magnetized me were the custard tarts. What Portuguese afternoon snack isn't complete without these? Sadly I was left a little glum, as my £2+ itsy bitsy tart was nothing special and paled into comparison to ones I'd had in Bangkok for one tenth the cost.
I know rents are incomparable here, so naturally it must cost a bit more in Covent Garden, but Canela's costs did seem a bit steep when a 20 quid plus bill arrived for 2 wines, a tart and a quite boring cheese-plate. I'd forgive them if the food and wine was A+ but at B- I think they need to do more work or lower their price expectations. Still a great location, though.
Canela's been singled out as being one of the better budget eateries in central London. I guess it could be considered budget only if you add "for Covent Garden" in front of the label, as I didn't think it was all that cheap. .
In any case, I came here one night for a pre-theatre takeaway meal, and got a chorizo tart to go. To my disappointment, it didn't seem all that filled with chorizo, and just tasted rather bland.
Also, I experienced incredibly slow service. I know I'm not the most patient person in the world. I come from East Asia, where not only are we among the fastest walkers on the planet, but we get a little agitated if we don't get responses to SMSes and e-mails in like an hour! So, to be faced by what I can only assume to be typically relaxed Brazilian service, especially when no one else is there, made me a little annoyed. Again, that could just be me.
In any case, I haven't been back since. If I'm in the area, and it's not a Sunday, I'd rather make the detour to Wild & Wood Cafe (qype.co.uk/place/759043-…) .
This cute Portuguese and Brazilian cafe is ideally situated in the Seven Dials / Covent Garden area and doesn't disappoint.
Mama P and I visited here yesterday afternoon for a snack after the ballet to tide us over before our evening meal and this worked out perfectly.
I had the vegetable and goat's cheese rocamble and Mama P the chicken one, both came with salad and crisps and were really tasty. We both also had the fresh and homemade lemonade which was lovely and really refreshing on a very warm day.
We wanted to sample one of the delicious looking desserts displayed but were worried we'd be too full - I'd like to sample the carrot and orange cake, banana and cinnamon and coconut cake which all looked amazing.
The service was great - quick, attentive, polite and friendly, the bill was reasonable and would definitely return.
Went here with a Brasilian friend of mine because we were both craving feijoada. It did not disappoint. A perfect sized lunch portion and sooo tasty - reminded me of my time in Rio.
This is a deli-like Portuguese restaurant that's probably charming for lunch, but wasn't a great choice for a recent dinner; at night it feels like an upmarket sandwich shop with the lights dimmed.
Recommendations can sometimes set you up for disappointment, and maybe that's what happened with me and Canela. I ended up here based upon the recommendation of a friend who said Canela was a lo-key, but impressive restaurant with atypical culinary fare. Since I was with a group that was looking for an out-of-the-ordinary restaurant with some unusual food options, we decided to check it out - I fear our expectations were not met.
We sat down to a clunky table in a dark and drafty room sporting a single glowing chandelier. After ordering a round of caipirnhas - the only cocktail available - we perused the menu, and chewed on some dense cheese rolls that the place is supposedly known despite their lack of flavour and peculiar texture - they verged on rubbery.
Eventually, since we could see all of the entrees pre-made and on display in a glass case, we all ended up just going to the counter and giving our orders by pointing to what looked the best. There was an assortment of quiches, lasagnas, and some savory pies with a Portuguese bent to choose from. Between the four of we ordered the chorizo tart, vegetable and goat's cheese rocambole, bean stew, and broccoli and goat's cheese quiche. The table was divided over the winning dish. Two of us voted for the quiche with its unusual spicing (we think there was a hint of clove?), which I actually thought was very very good... while the guys were most in favour of the rich and cheesy racombole (they found this surprising considering chorizo was also in the running!)
As a whole, this iss a decent little place - the one waiter on duty was extremely nice and helpful and charming. It just wasn't romantic or very unusual...which, with the moody lighting and handful of exotic accents - made it seem like that's what it was trying to be.
My Brazilian friend took me here for lunch and I did not know what to expect as I am not familiar with Portuguese food. Canels (which is Portuguese for cinnamon) is a great cafe style venue with minimalist interior. My friend recommended the Feijoada (a stew with black beans and smoked meat) which was unlike anything I have tasted but very good and full of flavours. The chorizo tart was also very good. Even though I was quite full still I was tempted by the custard tarts and it was a yummy end to my lunch.
I found the service to be a bit slow but the staff were friendly enough. Canela lacks character so I do not think I would have dinner here but for lunch it was fine.
I haven't reviewed Canela? Really? This is an outrage. Canela is probably my favourite cafe in the whole of London. I adore this place.
I also stumbled upon it by chance with my best mate. Whenever my best mate are together, some sort of communication breakdown happens when we're hungry. We can never find somewhere both of us want to eat. Until we came here. Since then I've had birthday meals and caught up with old friends and found just about any excuse to come back here.
The food is brilliant. If I get here early enough I always make sure I go for one of their specials as it's always yummy and hearty homecooked food. But all of the food is good. It's not exactly a 'restaurant experience', but that's why I like it. Baked chicken, lamb casserole, quiche that looks like pie. What's not to like?
It's got charm. Bucket loads of charm. There's something nice about seeing people prepare your food. Watching this in a tiny cafe with lovely (hot) waiters and friendly people is fun. You have to sometimes do a bit of shimmying around other people as it's so tiny in here, but no one seems to mind. Oh, and you have to use the loo by the bar next door. Don't moan.
I don't know a huge amount about Portuguese food, but I love it here. It's not cheap. You'll spend about £12 for your meal and drinks. But OH! The homemade lemonade is worth the trip alone. Seriously. I'd marry a man if he could make me fresh lemonade. You can drink wine and beer too. In fact, if you don't like lemonade, I suggest you do - it's the same price as the beer.
I love it here. But make sure you stay faithful to this branch. The branch in Carnaby doesn't have nearly the same amount of charm.
I heart Canela.
I have to agree that this Brazilian cafe is a great little find in Covent Garden and isn't as busy as it should be considering how nice it is. Their food is great value, particularly filling and generally always tasty. They serve some decent coffee, and a small selection of pastries including the must-have Portugese egg tart, crumbly soft pastry and a sweet yellow filling. Of course, if you want something proper for lunch they also serve some nice salads and quiches.
They have some tables inside and out, but as mentioned in other reviews, this place fills up fast. My strategy is to either have a late lunch, or head there for an early dinner.
This isn't really a 'restaurant' as such but it doesn't suffer for that. if you're after a bit of a different lunch experience then Canela is a good bet.
Casserole, quiches, curries salads: they're all made fresh with good quality ingredients and they wont mug you either. You can eat in or take away for less than a tenner.
One downside: the service can bit a tad surly, but only on a bad day, and if you get takeaway who cares right?
Really like this place. For me any trip to either Portugal or Brazil is always worth being reminded of under London's grey skies. Even if you haven't been the food is pretty authentic and a good approximation to the kind of stuff you might expect to eat. It treads a slightly strange line between café/bar and restaurant but it is fully licensed and you can drink great Portuguese wine with your chorizo, salads, feijoada and pasties de nata - custard tarts that have been spat on by God. It's a good place to choose in Covent Garden and especially if you go during the day you won't be angry with me or anyone else who recommends Canela 100%.
Quality wholesome food and tasty drinks from several corners of Europe. BUT: You need more seating guys! Silly space management when food and staff are this great.
Egg tart recommended.
Food is quite good but can be a little pricey. The pastries are very good though.
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