Elis in Bethnal Green: A taste of Brazil with an Italian twist
Nestled within the elegant Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green lies Elis, a new casual place from Rafael Cagali, who also runs the two-Michelin-starred Da Terra within the very same building. The restaurant is named after his mother’s first dining destination (and jazz bar) in São Paulo – a tribute to Brazilian singer Elis Regina – and the menu takes inspiration also from the chef’s Italian heritage.
At Elis, sharing is the way forward, and so we begin with the bread selection, as Italians do have a thing for their bread. The picanha tacos (from a beef cut adored by Brazilians – we call it rump) are followed by Bolinhos de Bacalhau, served with a dendê aioli, another staple from the South American country. We round off our foray into the starters with a Short Rib Pastél, a traditional fried dough filled with beef, and a refreshing Barbecued Mackerel with fennel and citrus salad.
The atmosphere is relaxed and laidback, and to pair with our food we choose a glass of Berthet-Bondet La Poirière 2018 Chardonnay from Jura, and a funkier red from Belgian-born, Sicilian-at-heart Frank Cornelissen, Susucaru Rosso 2020. The latter is a blend of typical Mount Etna grapes Nerello Mascalese and Minella, as well as Alicante Bouschet, resulting in a light red with cherry and earthy tones.
We venture into the mains with Duck Leg Ragù Pappardelle, putting the chef’s Italian roots to the test. As a connoisseur of the Mediterranean country, I can confirm the pasta holds its own; it could have done without the lemon zest touch, but we’ll let that slide. Our dinner is completed by a tender, flavoursome turbot, designed for sharing and accompanied with an array of side dishes, such as roasted cassava (in lieu of potatoes) and a truly delicious serving of cannellini beans cooked with smoked eel.
As we savour our Cynaroni (a take on the classic negroni, with Cachaça 3 Anos, Cynar and Aperol), we indulge in some irresistible doughnuts. Elis should not be seen as a more approachable sibling to Da Terra: it is an entirely different concept. This charming, intimate restaurant showcases the comfort food side of chef Cagali that couldn’t find room at his fine-dining establishment downstairs.
Photos: Arianna Ruth and Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Elis, Town Hall Hotel Patriot Square London E2 9NF, visit the restaurant’s website.