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Volta do Mar

Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Volta do Mar

Bronze Award

Covent Garden is awash with tourist traps and as a result, this isn’t always where you might come in search of a good independent restaurant, but Volta do Mar stands out from the crowd thanks to some homely cooking, excellent service and pleasant interiors.

The first signs of something good come with the soothing striped awnings and clamour of people out front, basking in the evening sun and sipping drinks. The restaurant is situated just off one of Covent Garden’s main thoroughfares, so it’s a little less hectic than the main plaza. Inside is similarly classy - varying tones of wood, blue-grey walls that remind us of the sea, and loads of natural light thanks to the glass frontage.

The menu combines Portuguese cooking with food from places that have been touched by Portugal’s seafaring history, like Goa, Brazil, Macau and Angola. Dinner is both delicious, and a fascinating history lesson. We kick things off closer to home with a few slices of sourdough, gently kissed by the grill, and some gorgeous sardine pate. Iberico ham, chorizo and morcilla croquettes were an extremely generous size, and oozed with layers of smoky pork. And who can say no to grilled prawns, their shells blackened from the grill - a glorious mess of sweet, tender meat and crustacean juices?

The restaurant was best when delivering simple thrills, and it was the slightly more complex dishes that flattered to deceive at times. Grilled chicken wings with sambal oelek - inspired by Portuguese communities in Malacca, Malaysia - were well cooked but needed a lighter touch on the seasoning. A Brazilian fish and tiger prawn stew, though nice enough, was rather one-note and lacked refinement.

The drinks list is proudly Portuguese and sourced with an exacting eye for quality as well as value; you can enjoy a juicy Douro Tinto from £6 a glass, and there’s a cracking selection of port and Madeira too. Combined with the warm, friendly service and mostly excellent cooking, Volta do Mar is certainly somewhere we’d head back to amid the thrum of Covent Garden.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cool, Cosy, Fun, Quiet conversation, Romantic, Unique
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating
Special Features
Chef’s table, Counter dining, Gluten-free options, Live music or dancing, Vegan options, Vegetarian options, Wheelchair access
Birthdays, Celebrations, Child friendly, Dates, Group dining [8+], Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


Dreamt up by Salt Yard co-founder Simon Mullins and his wife Isabel Almeida Da Silva, Volta do Mar, which roughly translates as ‘return from the sea’, was inspired by the couple’s love of Portuguese cuisine.

Taking up residence in the beautiful double-fronted Georgian townhouse that used to house Strada Covent Garden, Volta do Mar has been designed to reflect the vibrant atmosphere of Portugal, with plenty of curiosities and artworks on display throughout the bright, wood-panelled dining room split across two floors.

The restaurant is under the direction of chef George Tannock (The Dorchester, The Fat Duck, Sexy Fish), who works closely with Simon and Isabel to serve up a frequently changing menu of classic sharing and large plates that celebrate the richness of Portuguese cuisine.

Diners can expect everything from classic staples, such as smoked ham hock feijoada, and Macanese arroz marisco served tableside from a traditional Portuguese cooking pot, to dishes inspired by ingredients symbolic of the country’s trading past, including chillies from Angola and Mozambique used to make the restaurant’s signature piri piri.

The restaurant’s wine list has been carefully assembled to showcase Portuguese wines, from the vineyards of the mainland to those of the volcanic Azores. Most are available by the glass or carafe, and for those who don’t fancy wine, port or Madeira, an exotic spirits list offers plenty of alternatives.

Volta do Mar also caters for diners seeking breakfast, a light lunch or pre-theatre meal thanks to its provision of fresh, hand-baked bread and pastries, and selection of charcuterie and cheese sourced exclusively from one of Portugal’s oldest and most respected family-run businesses.

Operating as a traditional Portuguese pastelaria as well as a restaurant means that commuters or those working or shopping nearby can drop in for a bola de berlim – a type of Portuguese doughnut – alongside a classic Portuguese espresso.


Are there vegan options on the menu?

Yes there are a few vegan options.

Helpful? 0

Are there options for gluten-free diners?

Yes, there are gluten-free options too.

Helpful? 0


13-15 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7PS

020 3034 0028


Opening Times

Pre Theatre Dinner
Mon Closed
Tue 12:00-18:45
Wed 12:00-18:45
Thu 12:00-18:45
Fri 12:00-18:45
Sat 12:00-18:45
Sun Closed
Mon Closed
Tue 17:00-22:30
Wed 17:00-22:30
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat Closed
Sun Closed
All day
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu 12:00-22:30
Fri 12:00-22:30
Sat 12:00-22:30
Sun Closed


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5 Reviews 


20 November 2022   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 2
Atmosphere 2
Value 2
ok food painfully slow service...

It is quite a shock that someone behind the Salt Yard could miss so badly.

Service was an issue from the start, a half hour wait for drink orders and probably an hour in for the starters and a further hour wait for mains, we arrived at 7pm and left after 930pm and didn't dare look at the dessert menu as we didn't want to stay overnight.  Excuses were offered from Chef's family emergency (if that was real then we hope everything was ok, and these things do happen) to messed up the order and had to redo.

Starters was the best of the fare, we had from the snacks Flaming Chorizo, massive sausage on a flaming bowl and the sardine & sourdough.  Both really delicious but a 2nd slice of bread with the pate wouldn't of gone amiss.  From the actual starter menu we had the Ham & Chorizo croquettes which were tender and great tasting and the Grilled Prawns of which you got 4 plum and juicy grilled prawns, another winner.

Mains is more where the wheels came off, the Fish Stew was the highlight some nice fish in a rich bisque, the Chargrilled Mackerel was nice but small and not that exciting and the worst of the bunch was the baked salt cod with cream and potatoes, besides being a waste of fish not sure really what that was as served in a bowl in a kind of dry and hardened mess.  

All in the bill, for 3 of us, came to £150, but aperitifs and service were knocked off the bill.

The reason for booking the restaurant was that we were looking for something and Squaremeal popped up in my inbox suggesting this ‘Bronze Star’ restaurant.  Make one wonder did we just go on a bad day or are Squaremeal’s stars sold rather than earned?


Brentwood Bird

06 November 2022   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 2
Service 2
Atmosphere 2
Value 2
Disappointing, nothing like being in Portugal.....

All a bit of a let down.  Average food in very small portions served by folks who don't exactly make you feel welcome.  The menu is very limited, which actually suited us but it would have been nice to have been told from the get go that the "fish of the day" had sold out already, especially as all four of us had been drawn to it in the first place.  Not a comfortable place, we paid as soon as we finished our mains and headed off to one of the nearby bars for a bit more warmth and atmosphere.  Evening was summed up when the husband went a bought a pastie at the station on the way home!

Valerie M

03 April 2022   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 3
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 4
Nice place for a meal

It was a good all round experience


14 March 2022   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 2
Atmosphere 3
Value 3
Had its high points but overall slightly disappointing

We had been dying to try the food here since watching Daniel on Masterchef, and the flavours did not disappoint, but overall the experience was pretty average.  Sardine pate and croquettes to start with were a highlight, but as the meal progressed the flavours became quite 'samey' (identical flavour to the dipping sauce for the croquettes, prawns and fish stew) - except for my husband's pork belly, which was frankly bland and rather reminiscent of an underwhelming Sunday lunch.  Fish stew had very little fish in it!  We had a couple of aperitifs and shared a pudding, so felt the the nearly £200 price tag was fairly hefty, especially bearing in mind the rather erratic service.  (We were one of only 3 tables served by the owner, who kept forgetting what we had asked for, and felt sure that had the restaurant been fuller he would not have been able to cope.)


05 February 2022   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 5
Atmosphere 3.5
Value 5
Great night out

great food with very engaging staff

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