On Monday 11th November Volta do Mar opened its doors, bringing an exciting flavour of Portugal to London’s Covent Garden. Founded by husband and wife team Simon Mullins (formerly Co-Founder of the Salt Yard Group) and Isabel Almeida Da Silva (Mirabelle, Delaunay) and located in a charming double fronted Georgian town house, the restaurant will celebrate Portuguese cuisine and its rich culinary influences from around the world.
Loosely translating as ‘return from the sea’, Volta do Mar will explore the regional cuisine of Portugal, from the classic staples to the dishes born of the country’s trading past and culinary interactions with countries such as Angola, Goa, Mozambique, Brazil, Macau and beyond. Born and raised in Portugal, chef George Tannock, who honed his skills at The Dorchester, The Fat Duck, Zuma, Treves & Hyde and most recently Sexy Fish, will take the helm as head chef and work closely with Simon and Isabel to bring their collective passion and inspiration to fruition.
With its varied and inclusive offering, Volta do Mar aims to appeal to a demographic that is as broad and diverse as Portugal’s gastronomic history. Presenting a base of traditional Portuguese favourites, it will embark on its own voyage of discovery to keep alive a fascinating tradition of learning and trading with other cultures through cuisine. Chillies from Angola and Mozambique, for instance, will be used to make the restaurant’s proprietary piri piri, whilst vegetables from West Africa are already being grown for the restaurant in Dorset greenhouses, and cod and octopus roe are being cured with salt brought from the ancient Roman salt pans of Tavira.
A frequently changing menu of both sharing and large plates will include dishes such as Smoked ham hock feijoada, a traditional bean-based stew; Iberico Pork Vindalho; Macanese Arroz Marisco, a seafood rice served tableside from a Cataplana; Pão Com Chouriço, a dish of Goan smoked chorizo served in a naan. For lighter lunches or an evening snack, a selection of charcuterie and cheese will be exclusively sourced from one of Portugal’s oldest and most respected family run businesses, Manteigaria Silva, founded c.1890. Also open for breakfast throughout the week, Volta do Mar will operate as a traditional Portuguese pastelaria, with an inhouse baker making Pastel de Nata; Bola de Berlim, a type of Portuguese doughnut; and pão, freshly baked bread perfect to be enjoyed alongside a ‘uma bica’ – a classic Portuguese coffee.
The restaurant’s wine list has been lovingly assembled by Simon & Isabel to showcase Portuguese wines, taking guests on a journey from the vineyards of the mainland to those of the volcanic Azores, and even venturing to the shores of Brazil. Several Port and Madeira wines will also be found and much of the wine list will be available by the glass or carafe, with many priced under £30 per bottle. An exotic spirits list will echo the global influences found in the food, including such delights as Cap Grogue, a sugar cane-based spirit from Cape Verdé; Gin from Angola; and Cashu from Mozambique. Cocktails, meanwhile, will include an ever-evolving mix of Portuguese classics and modern interpretations of popular varieties, such as a Pumpkin Margarita or Sol de Orange, made from Goan Feni, orange and lemonade.
Simon and Isabel have intricately designed the interior of Volta do Mar to reflect the lively and vibrant atmosphere of Portugal with fun decorative nods to its trading past. The first-floor wooden panelled Georgian dining room is bright and airy and has been designed with an eccentric merchant’s house in mind with various curiosities displayed for all to admire, whilst the ground floor will draw guests in with beautiful artwork, some available to buy, creating a space whose look will evolve, as the artwork changes. Also on the ground floor is a light and inviting natural wooden bar with a special wine tasting room ‘behind the curtain’, accessed through back of house. For a more intimate experience, a downstairs PDR, with seating for between 10 and 20, will be complete with beautiful artwork and soft furnishings. The overall result will be a cosy and inviting atmosphere where Londoners and visitors to London alike can dine, relax and absorb themselves in Portugal’s compelling past.