Pre Theatre Dining at Volta do Mar, Covent Garden.
Finding somewhere new for pre-theatre dining in Covent Garden is a joyful experience. Especially when it’s from Simon Mullins, co-founder of Salt Yard and his wife Isabel Almeida da Silva. With a nod to the navigational skills of the Portuguese, Volta do Mar is named after a 15th-century technique perfected by Portuguese navigators during the Age of Discovery which made use of wind patterns at sea. And the restaurant menu is a testament to the wide influence of the Portuguese on world cuisine. As Volta do Mar say on their own website they are
‘Celebrating the diversity of Portuguese cuisine and its relationship with South America, Africa & Asia.’
The result is a menu which has everything from Aubergine Goan Curry with Cashew Yoghurt to Arroz Marisco (Seafood Rice) – with Salt Yard style small plates and large plates.
And, there’s also a lunch and pre-theatre menu which offers three courses for £19 or four for £24. Anyone who regularly eats out in Covent Garden will know that’s a pretty good deal so I slipped in before the ballet to try for myself.
Skipping the first course meant I could enjoy three courses including dessert. And, even before I’d chosen the rest of the meal I’d spotted the Pudim with Caramelised Orange, a Portuguese/South American creme caramel.
I first discovered Volta do Mar at a Portuguese Trade Wine Tasting event being held upstairs. And, I mentioned to the staff that was why I’d come back. So, instead of the wine I had picked they suggested a really lovely glass of Maritávora Nº5 Colheita White 2018 Organic
Wine from the Douro. It’s made from Códega do Larinho, Rabigato and Viosinho indigenous grapes.
The meal started for me with Portuguese Fish Soup (Algarvian style), which was a delicious, light saffron and tomatoey broth with flakes of fish and pasta, topped with fresh herbs. Fragrant and comforting, I’d have just ordered a second bowlful if I hadn’t already chosen a main course.
Bacalhau com Natas was described to me as salt cod in a custard. It was like an upsidedown fish pie, with layers of bacalhau and potato topped with a creamy white sauce and a crisp bread crumb. I’d probably ask for a side salad if I ordered it again simply because it needed some contrast of flavour.
And of course, my dessert, the Pudim, was picture perfect and every bit as delicious as it looks.
Chef George Tannock has a stellar CV with prior experience at The Fat Duck and Sexy Fish. Here he’s serving Portuguese food that tastes as if it is from the finest Pousada, from a Porto Wine House or a fresh fish bar in the Algarve. I’m impressed and will be back for more, not least because it’s a quirky, comforting kind of place with a great wine list and pricing that doesn’t mean I’ll have to pawn the family jewels.
Volta do Mar
13-15 Tavistock St,
London WC2E 7PS