Viajante  -  London, England

Exterior Photo Credit: Ed Reeve •

Restaurant:  Located in London’s Bethnal Green district, Viajante opened in opened in 2010. “Viajante,” Portuguese for traveler, featured Iberian cuisine with influences from Asian, Latin American, and Americann Southern cooking.

Chef:  Following his training at the California Culinary Academy, Chef Nuno Mendes worked with some of the world’s most famous chefs and worked in award- winning restaurants such as Jean-Georges and el Bulli. Giles Coren of The Times (UK) named Chef Mendes "every restaurant critic's secret favourite cook.”

Butter:  Viajante served two homemade whipped butters: a smoked butter and a burnt brown butter. The waiters served the butter quenelles (oval dumplings) with freshly baked bread on a slab of olive wood. Chefs would dust the smoked butter with crushed walnuts and leek ash salt and serve it with bacon walnut sourdough. They sprinkled the brown butter with crispy chicken skin, Iberico ham and purple potato powder and served it with a roasted potato baguette.

Commentary:  Growing up in Lisbon, Portugal, Chef Mendes savored the olive oil in his family’s kitchen. The first time he got excited about butter he was just 6 or 7 years old. On a trip to France, he tasted good-quality Normandy butter. He remembers it as white, sweet, whipped, and sprinkled with crispy fleur de sel. “It was amazing,” he recalls. Although the Portugese favor olive oil, the archipelago of Açores has fantastic butter, Chef Mendes says, and this encouraged his life-long passion for the rich ingredient.