Vindaloo Gets The Portuguese Touch At This Covent Garden Restaurant
Covent Garden's new Portuguese restaurant comes with an intricate mesh of influences — and that's not counting the resumés of the founders, Salt Yard Group's Simon Mullins and his partner, (ex-The Delauney) Isabel Almeida da Silva.
Drawing on their own family histories, the seafood-heavy line-up brings in dishes and ingredients from Portugal and its former trade routes, taking in influences from Mozambique and Angola to Goa and Macau, and delivering some dazzlers en route. Vindaloo throws back to its Portuguese-Goan vindalho roots, Iberico pork in a coarse, fiery paste with a vinegary sweetness and tang underneath it.
It's up there for favourite of the evening, but in a straight heat with the sardine pate starter (phenomenal value at £4 for a big portion of buttery-rich fish and crunchy sourdough). Tough competition also comes from the chorizo naan, perfect barsnack/pre-drinking material (£7.50), a light, chewy flatbread smeared with light, grassy white cheese and peppery leaves — easy to share, easy to wolf down solo.
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We're less smitten with the crab-tomato starter, though it's perfectly, gently nice — delicately crabby and delicately tomatoey, but underpowered compared to the big flavours punching through most of the menu.
Pricing bounces around a bit — nothing feels eye-wateringly steep given how good it is, but it's hard to gauge without waiterly intervention if you're enormously over- or under-ordering. Mains are a big leap upwards price-wise, with both of ours nearer £20, and in need of some sides to go with them, while the starters and small plates range from substantial and great value — at the sardine pate/chorizo naan end of the spectrum — to elegant, pricier and daintier portions at around £11. The Portuguese wine list's nicely democratic, though, with some rarities from the Azores for the deep of wallet, and some thoroughly lovely Douro Valley house wines at £24 a bottle.
This is a spot that lends itself more to shared petiscos-style snacking or family-style feasting than to individual ordering — so much of the interesting, great-value stuff is happening in the snacks/small plate sections. Our perfect route through the Volta do Mar menu's going to be a selection of carbs from the snacks or small plate sections, maybe a shared vindalho, and ideally enough room left to tackle a Castella cake with honey-poached pear.
And a splash through their wine list. Naturalmente.
Volta do Mar, 13-15 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PS.
Last Updated 08 January 2020