Nestled in Old Spitalfields Market, Taberna do Mercado is feeding London’s hungry with some of the best Portuguese tapas in town. Nuno Mendes, who is most famous for his celebrity behemoth Chiltern Firehouse, has gone down a different path for this new venture. The restaurant, in all its simplicity and modesty, highlights the breadth of Mendes’ skills. Launched in partnership with Antonio Galapito, the ethos of the restaurant is to properly represent the cuisine of their home country, Portugal.
While my interest in Chiltern Firehouse certainly lapsed after the millionth photo of a disheveled Lindsay Lohan falling out of the restaurant was splashed across the front page of the Metro, I hadn’t completely lost hope. I went to Taberna do Mercado optimistic, and Mendes and Galapito certainly didn’t disappoint.
We were treated to a glass of Espumante (the Portuguese version of Cava) to start, along with some runner bean fritters served with bulhao Ω a type of clam and coriander sauce. A surpising highlight of the meal, the combination of paper-thin batter, crispy beans and saline dip was excellent. Next came small plates of copita (air dried acorn fed black pig loin), quinta dp carapinhal (a medium hard sheep’s milk), a portion of the house tinned fish – we went for the monkfish cheeks, which were so tender and well-seasoned we ordered another portion. We also braved the special of percebes, which are a rare Portuguese speciality of goose barnacles, that came simply dressed with a squeeze of lemon, and tasted far better than they looked (imagine dinosaur feet).
We shared a Portuguese custard tart to finish (probably the best I’ve ever tasted) and I left wondering how soon before I can go back again. Mendes, you’ve won me over.
Old Spitalfields Market, 107B Commercial St, E1 6BG
0207 375 0649