Location: Covent Garden, London, England
When Victor surprised me with theatre tickets to go see Endgame, I must admit I immediately thought: what are we going to do for dinner? I had never done a pre-theatre dinner before, so I was excited to try one of the hundreds of options available in Covent Garden. As it so happened, I had just read about a brand new opening, a Portuguese restaurant called Volta do Mar. I checked their website, saw they had a pre-theatre menu and was immediately sold.
When a restaurant is brand new, it feels like you’re getting the exclusive scoop. There are usually not many customers, and if there are they tend to be food critics. I spotted some recognizable figures at the restaurant, which made the whole experience so much more intriguing and exciting. We started off with some sourdough bread and whipped butter and fried cornmeal bites with masala sauce to go with our delicious red wine.
The inspiration behind Volta do Mar is not only Portuguese cuisine from Portugal but the Portuguese cuisine as a culmination of a number of influences. Volta do Mar translates to turn of the sea or return from the sea. This alludes to Portugal’s age of discovery. Portuguese cuisine indeed has been influenced by its colonies as well as interactions with other countries via its trade routes. This history is reflected in the dishes available at Volta do Mar. Inspiration is drawn from Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Goa, Macau and Japan. The pre-theatre menu actually mostly consisted of quite traditional Portuguese dishes, but nonetheless, I would be excited to try their regular menu for some of their more unique options.
Our next dishes were the Portuguese Fish Stew (Caldeirada) and Beetroot salad. I particularly loved the stew as it was deliciously warm and fresh at the same time.
One of the stars of the show was Bacalhau com Natas (meaning cod with cream). This dish is wonderfully decadent and I could’ve eaten so many more plates of this! I’m forever awed by the Portuguese way of cooking cod, and this was a great example.
For dessert, we had something that neither of us had tried before: Farofias Da Avó Maria Emilia. Farofias is poached meringue. It has a distinct lemon flavour and is usually topped with cinnamon.
My experience at Volta do Mar was simply divine. It was the perfect meal before heading to the theatre, which was excellent too I might add.
Another one of my favourite Portuguese restaurants in London is Bar Douro — why not give them a try too?