Volta do Mar, a new restaurant in London’s Covent Garden, celebrates Portuguese cuisine and its rich culinary influences from around the world. Here’s the full review of Volta do Mar by Adrienne Fung.
Volta Do Mar is the latest venture Simon Mullins (Salt Yard Group co-founder) and his wife, Isabel Almeida da Silva. The new restaurant aims to bring the taste of Portugal to the heart of Covent Garden and celebrate the relationship of Portuguese cuisine with South America, Africa and Asia.
Situated in a double-fronted Georgian townhouse, Volta Do Mar serves up classic Portuguese dishes with international influence from Portugal’s various trading posts including Brazil, Goa, Macau, Angola, Mozambique and Japan.
Volta Do Mar’s townhouse space is cosy and inviting. The downstairs is separated into two areas: a room with a bar and counter on the right perfect for a quick pastry and coffee and the main restaurant dining room to the left. Upstairs holds more tables and accommodation for private dining for up to 50 guests. A painting of Portugal’s classic red roof houses on the water hung in the main dining room reminds you of what you’re here for.
The kitchen is led by head chef George Tannock who was born and raised in Portugal and has had successful stints at top London restaurants including The Dorchester, Zuma, The Fat Duck and Sexy Fish.
We started the meal with a few of Volta Do Mar’s recommended small plates including the cured mackerel ‘Alimado’, aubergine Goan curry with cashew yoghurt, and chorizo naan with fresh cheese, accompanied by a bottle of their house red wine.
Each dish, though Portuguese in nature, was influenced by a different cuisine, marrying unique flavours and techniques. The aubergine was incredibly tender and delicious. The savoury curry was well spiced and the creamy cashew yoghurt helped balance out the heat.
The chorizo naan, one of their most popular starters, is an instant crowd pleaser. The flatbread style naan is topped with salty flecks of chorizo, dollops of cheese and a fresh arugula and pickled onion salad.
My favourite starter, though, was the cured mackerel Alimado, a Japanese inspired dish that is not to be missed. The cured fish has a distinct, smoky flavour and is served with bright and citrusy style vinaigrette. A touch of sweetness in this savoury dish reminded me of similar flavour profiles of a classic Japanese miso cod dish. This was a beautifully executed plate of food that showcases the best of Volta Do Mar.
For mains, we tried the Arroz Marisco (seafood rice) and Iberico Pork Vindalho with a side of their Goan-spiced carrots and smoked paprika chips.
The seafood rice was incredibly complex and tasted of the ocean in the best way possible. In fact, it was better than many of the seafood rice dishes I’ve tried in Portugal. The velvety concoction made from a combination of mussels, clams and prawns was decadent and deep in flavour.
The Iberico pork was also successful. The meat was tender and the bold spices in the marinade highlighted the Goan influence in this classic Portuguese dish. Originally a dish using a wine and garlic marinade, the Goans adapted the recipe adding classic Indian spices giving the dish a rich and tangy flavour.
Volta Do Mar’s version is served with a cabbage slaw and mango chutney, all of which work quite well together. Though big in flavour, the dish is nice and light. We also enjoyed our sides. The chips were served piping hot and had the perfect crunchy exterior while remaining fluffy on the inside. They were also well seasoned, perfect on their own without any other accompaniments. The carrots were served with a savoury granola, giving the tender carrots a nice textural component, though overall the dish was a bit on the sweet side.
We finished the meal with coffee and espresso plus a few of Volta Do Mar’s specialty desserts. We were recommended the grilled pineapple with chilli and coconut sorbet as well as their pudim casa de Santo Amaro with orange and Madeira.
The pineapple dessert was cool and refreshing while the chilli added a nice bit of heat for contrast.
The pudim, a creamy Portuguese flan, was rich and buttery. Slivers of candied orange peel gave the dessert bursts of orange essence reminiscent of marmalade.
We really enjoyed our meal at Volta Do Mar. The restaurant is well situated in Covent Garden, providing theatregoers with a great pre-show dining option. The relaxed environment paired with innovative cuisine makes Volta Do Mar a hit. While they continue to experiment with the menu and introduce new dishes, I look forward to seeing how the cuisine evolves.
Disclaimer: Adrienne was a guest of the restaurant. All opinions are her own.