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Taberna Do Mercado
Old Spital� elds Market, 107b Commercial Street, E1 6BG
020 7375 0649 Price £45
Celebrated chef Nuno Mendes's
Taberna do Mercado is markedly
di� erent to his other establishment
- celebrity haunt Chiltern Firehouse.
But this 40-cover, all-day Spital elds
hangout seems much closer to the
heart of a chef who made his name
with Viajante in nearby Bethnal Green.
What's more, everything from the
marble tabletops to the wine list and
menu re ects his Portuguese roots.
The tapas-style 'petiscos' are made
for sharing. Cured meats are sliced
paper-thin and melt in the mouth; a
daily changing choice of sh (tinned
at the restaurant, Portuguese-style) is
served in quaint metal dishes.
We recommend the scallops,
with freshly baked bread to mop up
the rich, oily juices. Other highlights
include a chicory, pear and almond
salad with massa de pimentão - a
bright red bell-pepper sauce; and aky
corvina and picadito Algarvio, a sea
bass-like sh with peppers.
For dessert, the authentically
Portuguese abade de Priscos (made
from pork fat, egg yolk and sugar)
is like nothing we've tasted before;
oddly delicious, but we wouldn't have
wanted to eat more than our small
portion thanks to its sugary fattiness.
A decent wine list, friendly sta�
and the 'simple Portuguese breakfast',
with ample quantities of co� ee and
reasonable prices add to the appeal of
a place as suited to o ce workers as
hipsters and families. Mendes's latest
enterprise is a welcome reminder of
what he does best - and an overdue
east London homecoming.
Morden & Lea
17 Wardour Street, W1D 6PJ
020 3764 2277 Price £45
This modern Soho brasserie comes from chef -
and increasingly restaurateur - Mark Sargeant
(Plum + Spilt Milk, Rocksalt) who commendably is
trying to bring quality British food to the Leicester
Square hinterland, an area dominated by the sort
of chain restaurants and touristy Chinatown joints
no Londoner would ever set foot in.
Morden Lea in fact occupies the former
premises of the Chinese Chuen Cheng Ku.
A small, blue facade leads to a surprisingly large
ground- oor space, with booths and high benches
intended for 'British tapas' snacking. We ate in
the brighter, plusher, rst- oor dining room and
bar surrounded by beige leather banquettes and
powder-blue and white walls. Foodwise, it's out
with the duck pancakes and in with soft, pink,
Goosnargh duck breast perfectly paired with
deeply fruity peach; or caramelised onion tart,
served with tangy Cheddar.
The menu makes much of English provenance
and current trends, matching Dingley Dell pork
loin with pickled vegetables, and roast quail with
smoked aubergine, polenta chips and spiced
yoghurt. Our standout dish of Romney Marsh
lamb stuck to classic British cuisine, however,
combining superbly cooked, aromatic esh with
crispy breast-meat cakes, glazed potatoes and
juicy mushrooms. Another highlight was the subtle
sweetness of a dark-chocolate pudding with
hazelnuts, co� ee sherbet and praline mousse.
Wines are predominantly French, while a playful
cocktail list includes the fruity Velvet Revolver
punch, served in a metal top hat (inspired by
Guns N' Roses' guitarist Slash).
Considering Morden Lea's proximity to the
likes of Pizza Express, £35 for three courses might
seem punchy - not least because there's something
about Morden Lea that has the whi� of
chain-in-waiting to it. But we hope it succeeds:
it would be a shame if the Leicester Square tourists
never got to try British food when they came
to London - and it's worth a look by locals too.
3 more…CHEFS GOING CASUAL
020 3641 1880
Heddon Street Kitchen
020 3641 0657
020 3551 2890
THE LAST WORD Mark Sargeant's capacious brasserie looks set
to tempt Soho's crowds with quality, on-trend British cooking
THE LAST WORD Nuno Mendes's tribute to his
birthplace is a casual all-day hangout bringing quality
Portuguese tapas, wine and breakfasts to Spital� elds