Volta do Mar
Volta do Mar brings 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 celebrates Portuguese cuisine and its rich culinary influences from around the world.
Loosely translating as ‘return from the sea’, Volta do Mar explores Portugal’s regional cuisine from classic staples to 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, Head Chef George Tannock, who honed his skills at The Dorchester, The Fat Duck, Zuma, Treves & Hyde and most recently Sexy Fish, has taken the helm as head chef and works closely with Simon and Isabel to bring their collective passion and inspiration to fruition.
With its varied offering, Volta do Mar aims to appeal to a demographic that is as diverse as Portugal’s gastronomic history.Presenting a base of traditional Portuguese favourites, it is also embarking on its own voyage of discovery to keep alive a fascinating tradition of learning from other cultures through cuisine. Chillies from Angola and Mozambique, for instance, are used to make the restaurant’s piri piri, while vegetables from West Africa are grown in Dorset greenhouses, and cod and octopus roe are cured with salt brought from the ancient Roman salt pans of Tavira.
A frequently changing menu of both sharing and large plates includes dishes such as smoked ham hock feijoada; Iberico Pork Vindalho; Macanese Arroz Marisco, a seafood rice served tableside from a Cataplana; and Pão Com Chouriço, Goan smoked chorizo served in a naan. For lighter lunches or an evening snack, a selection of charcuterie and cheese are exclusively sourced from one of Portugal’s oldest and most respected family run businesses, Manteigaria Silva, founded c.1890.
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. There are also several Port and Madeira wines, and much of the wine list is available by the glass or carafe, with many priced under £30 per bottle. An exotic spirit list echoes the global influences found in the food, including Cap Grogue, a sugar cane-based spirit from Cape Verdé; Gin from Angola; and Cashu from Mozambique. Cocktails, meanwhile, 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 decorative nods to its trading past. The airy first-floor wooden panelled Georgian dining room has been designed with an eccentric merchant’s house in mind with various curiosities displayed for all to admire, while the ground floor draws 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, is complete with beautiful artwork and soft furnishings. The overall result is a cosy and inviting atmosphere where Londoners and visitors to London alike can dine, relax and absorb themselves in Portugal’s compelling past.