When Rafael Cagali took the fine dining space in east London’s Town Hall Hotel he had some big shoes to fill, the intimate dining space having previously been home firstly to Nuno Mendes’ Michelin-starred Viajante and then Lee Westcott’s also highly-acclaimed The Typing Room. The hotel has had links with high-end gastronomy since opening and there was a feeling that its owners were looking for even greater things with its next signing.
The Brazilian chef has not disappointed. Having opened Da Terra in January 2019 the restaurant gained its first Michelin star just eight months later before going on to win its second in the 2021 guide. None of this should have been particularly surprising: Cagali’s CV includes times in the kitchens with Spanish chef luminaries Quique Dacosta and Martin Berasategui before working at The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal and then helping Simon Rogan open Fera at Claridges.
Da Terra’s modern European menu combines the flavours of Cagali’s Brazilian and Italian roots with flair and humour (a figurine of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Rafael makes an appearance). Dishes on the two tasting menus (a 'short' seven course menu is served at lunch, or a 'long' 10-course one) are perfunctorily described by their three main ingredients but deliver much more, including some surprising elements that you won't find anywhere else in the capital.