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Bar 1790, London

20/02/2023 by .
Bar 1790 Interior

Rupert Parker reviews Bar 1790, a Portuguese wine bar and restaurant in the City of London

Just five minutes’ walk from Bank Station, St. Swithin’s Lane has been the home of the Sandeman Port Company, since 1805. Here they blended and bottled Port wines from Portugal and exported to all corners of the world. Barrels were transported from boats on the Thames via an underground passage to the cellars, ideal for storing and ageing wines.

That business sadly ceased in 1967 but they’re now back in their original premises with a wine bar, named after the date the company was founded. Bar 1790 occupies the site of the bottling plant, and you can still see the underground tunnel which connects it to the cellars opposite.  It opened in December 2022 and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during weekdays.

Bar 1790 Exterior 1

Sandeman Poster

The welcoming interior has stylish red chandeliers and a long bar on the rear wall with round wooden tables. We take our seats on green leather banquettes in a side room near the back and are immediately offered drinks. The wine list is almost entirely Portuguese, so I settle for a refreshing glass of their Alvarinho Reserve. My companion goes for a mocktail, a Tropicone with pineapple, apple, lime, passion fruit, coconut and strawberry.

Service is brisk and we’re soon tucking into slices of their warm sourdough bread served with whipped anchovy butter and lardo, fat from the back of the pig. The menu is composed of small plates divided into shellfish and meat, larger plates and vegetables. This is tapas style, and all dishes are meant for sharing.

Octopus Tentacle


From the small plates, we start with a long slow cooked tentacle of octopus, meltingly tender served with a large dollop of aioli. It’s not the largest tentacle I’ve seen but certainly full of flavour. There’s also handpicked crab meat with tomato tartare on grilled sourdough bread. Four slices house an ample combination of crab and tomato, flavours that work well together.

From the meat selection, we go for marinated veal cheek with pickled and raw vegetables. It’s served on a bed of mashed potato and baby artichokes and is the size of a main course. By this time, we’re approaching our limit, but curiosity demands an order of grilled Hispie cabbage with garlic butter. It’s surrounded by creamy cannellini beans and is definitely one of the hits of the evening.


Veal Cheek

So, to desserts and, since the theme of the food is Portuguese, we have to try the traditional Pastel de Nata. This warm flaky custard tart is served with cinnamon ice cream and doesn’t disappoint. We also order the cinnamon doughnuts, light and airy and filled with vanilla, but three is one too much and we’ve reached our limit.


Bar 1790 is designed for relaxed dining and is a pleasant surprise in the heart of the bustling City of London. It’s good to see a relatively short menu and the sharing concept works well. Even better, the restaurant promises an authentic taste of Portugal and the food and wine delivers exactly that.


Tell Me More About Bar 1790


Bar 1790 19-23 St Swithins Lane, London, EC4N 8AD

Small plates £12 – £28, Large plates £18 – £35

Desserts £6 Carafes of wine from £18.

Sandeman’s historic cellars can be hired for private event


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