Taberna do Mercado

Restaurants, Portuguese Spitalfields
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
(12user reviews)
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The newest venture from Nuno Mendes, of Viajante and - most recently - Chiltern Firehouse fame.

When the chef of the paparazzi-swarmed Chiltern Firehouse sets up his own restaurant, you take notice. But Nuno Mendes is not trying to attract red-carpet customers here. He’s going back to his roots with a modest-looking Portuguese restaurant in Old Spitalfields Market.

This ‘market tavern’ takes classic dishes and plays around using the latest techniques and ideas. The wittiest example is the ‘house tinned fish’: prawns cooked sous-vide to mimic the pasteurisation effect of the canning process, then immersed in prawn-flavoured olive oil, with a tangy kick from Goan balchao tomato, and served in a tin with toasted sourdough. It’s a treat that evokes Portugal, but does it better than even the best tin of sardines.

Every dish seems to come with a story, which our waitress was happy to detail. Persecution under the Inquisition meant that many Iberian Jews pretended to convert to Catholicism, and they adapted their food accordingly. One example was the alheira, a sausage made with poultry instead of pork; Taberna’s version adds a sour kick.

Another story lay behind our pudding. Egg white was once used in Portugal to starch nun’s clothes, so we were told, creating a surfeit of egg yolks which were then used in desserts such as pudim Abade de priscos. This is usually set with pork fat and red wine, but Mendes slow-cooks the egg to set it, and uses red wine to make a jus. Its meltingly rich texture, not too sweet, is extraordinary.

Even if you couldn’t care less about clever culinary tricks, there’s much to enjoy at Taberna. The wine list is affordable; the room is spacious and bright, with a large terrace in the covered market; and the staff seem genuinely passionate about what they do. If you found a restaurant like this is Lisbon, you’d be delighted. But you never will, because Taberna do Mercado’s an export model, and a one-off.

No bookings taken for for dinner.

Lunch reservations by email only, to   lunch@tabernamercado.co.uk

 

 

 

By: Guy Dimond

Posted:

Venue name: Taberna do Mercado
Contact:
Address: Old Spitalfields Market
107b Commercial St
London
E1 6EW
Opening hours: Open Mon-Sat noon-9.30pm, Sun noon-8pm.
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £90
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:8
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|12
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rich w
1 of 1 found helpful

Lovely place to while a way an hour or two over lunch. Very unhurried, great dishes, the tinned fish and the prawn rissois were brilliant. I'll be heading back for more soon, to try out the other creations.

Emily C
tastemaker

This is a hidden gem. Located in the bustling spitalfields market, this small restaurant shouts class from the off. The menu is full of items that you wouldn't dare touch in normal circumstances - for example, we tried pigs cheeks, which you may normally not go for! These were delicious. The chef knows exactly what flavours to pair together for the best flavour. As expected, for this quality, prices aren't the cheapest. Each item is a reasonable £6-7 but once you start adding this up it gets pricey. Especially if you get some wine in there! Definitely recommend for treat day or date night

Marta Lucia K
tastemaker

Lovely little restaurant! Taberna is a relatively small space, although they have a heated outdoor area, but in general it feels cozy as opposed to crowded. Service was great and the food was delicious. The fried green beans were reminiscent of fried squid, a bit zesty, which balanced out well, and they had a lovely crunch to them without being too oily. The sheep's cheese was cheesy, as cheese is, which was fine by me and the bite of crunchy pig's ears with the vinaigrette-soaked apples was probably the best of the night. The artichoke with the chestnut was creamy and smoky. Overall a really tasty meal. That said, portions are a bit too small for the price but if you've got some extra money lying around I'd spend it here. 

Aude
tastemaker

Not only Spanish and Italian are making amazing charcuterie, Portuguese as well, and this is not known enough!


If what we know about Portuguese cuisine is limited to the salted cod and the pastéis de nata, this is because Portuguese people keep the secret of their good food!

Fortunately, you can find in the heart of the Spitalfields market La Taberna do Mercado, a small and nice Portuguese restaurant.

The place is expensive, really expensive, especially if you compared the price with the one you’ll find in Portugal, but I tried a lot of the food they propose on the menu and find nothing to criticise (except the price).


Food is good, waiter really nice and happy to explain the Portuguese dishes on the menu.


This is a good occasion to try Portuguese cheese and charcuterie, they deserve to be better known!

Izzy K
Tastemaker

We went there for a team lunch during the week and it was a feast! The place wasn’t even half full, it was exceptionally peaceful but welcoming.


As it’s a sharing plates place, we tried all the sheep cheeses on the menu, served with grilled sourdough and they were all interesting in their own uniqueness. We also ordered the prawn rissois, which turned out to be little dumplings with slightly spicy prawn filling, deep fried – delicious!


I also tried skate, served with roasted garlic, sweet potato puree & chopped parsley, all beautifully arranged in a little tin and equally beautiful in taste. Jerusalem artichokes with crispy kale was also super tasty.

Creamy egg sponge cake with olive all to share was delicate and creamy, not too sweet. It was so good that we took another one for a take away (they normally don’t do that, but we managed to convince them:)

The little let down were the pastels. The were OK. But a little bit too burned for my taste not as fresh and crispy as the ones I’ve tried in Lisbon.


I really wanted to try their cocktail made with horseradish gin & white port, but they didn’t have it. So I went for martini made with some other mysterious gin, served with lightly pickled, thinly cut cauliflower on the site. I was expecting a similar flavour disaster to the blue cheese cocktail at Duck & Waffle, but it was actually quite pleasant and intriguing.

The service was knowledgeable and attentive, happy to explain any doubts about the ingredients, many of which were in Portuguese.

Vanessa L

Don't get all the fuss about this place.

I'm portuguese and found this restaurant really sad as a modern representation of portuguese food. Would not recommend it at all


Found the food really tasteless and ingredients cooked in way that resulted in awful textures...

I've dined at plenty of good restaurants in my life, this is not a good one.

The service varies between waiters, some are quite arrogant while others are super nice.


But the food, a huge disappointment

Good place to go if you're not planning on eating much. Prices are completely overrated also for the amount of food. Although I wouldn't mind the price if the food was mind-blowing, which was not, at all.


To be avoided, until they consider some changes on their menu and the way they confection food.


Bonnie W
Tastemaker

Everything that I ordered here during a recent lunch was so delicious and fresh. Being vegetarian, there weren't too many items to choose from but the staff were accommodating about making a few changes to some dishes so they would be vegetarian. The runner bean fritters, chicory salad and sorrel bread pudding were lovely and nicely plated. The prices can add up as they recommend two to three plates per person. The restaurant is located in Spitalfields Market and and has a great heated patio looking over the market stalls. Taberna do Mercado doesn't take reservations so it's good to get there soon after it opens as it filled up quickly during a Saturday lunch, and I'm sure it's busy at dinner too.

churro_bunny

This was recommended to me by a friend who is a fan of Nuno Mendes. Prior to going, I had no idea what a feast I was going to have, and boy was I pleasantly surprised! All the dishes are a delight to look at and sample, everything tasted beautifully balanced and not too heavy, although there were lots of meat.I also liked how they served the seafood in cans - it was so innovative . 


I particularly loved this place as I had never - before that day tried anything that tasted like what I ate. It definitely was a new experience for my senses.  I would highly recommend this place if you have some cash to spare, and have at least 3 people with you in a group. They are all sharing plates - so the more the merrier!

Angela L
Tastemaker

I was hesitant to try this place as it's a very meat-heavy menu at first glance but was very surprised that actually they had a number of good choices and were flexible about making vegetarian adjustments. We went on a rainy Sunday lunch time and was given a table outside (undercover of Spitalfields Market) which is what we wanted – and was close to the specials board full of meat / seafood options that sounded interesting and tempting to my companions. As a veggie, the standout dish was the broad bean fritters. Dessert wise, we all agreed the olive oil cake exceeded expectations – It was like eating baked custard. Be warned, it’s a sharing portion so do share it! I want to go back for their breakfast – it’s the only time they serve the oozy Portuguese Nata Tarts!  Also - the portion size was just right (there were three of us), I reckon it's better for a party of four though.

Luis Grangeon

"title"


Pleasant ambiance, friendly with some Portuguese speaking employees. The food is very Portuguese and very typical, enhance with a special "chef " touch. A fantastic Portuguese style in London. Congratulations!!! A restaurant to be saved in my shortlist

Nick S

A fantastic relaxed place for lunch with all the dishes clever and creative but not over-clever, just good to eat small plates. As you might expect from NM an original offering and not a single disappointment. Don't miss out on the cheeses: good choice of Portuguese wines. NM himself was  very much in evidence when we went - charming and modest.