Age: About a decade-and-a-half now, but it’s been under its current management for a year.
Where exactly is it? Extremely near esteemed E10 foodie boozer the Coach & Horses.
OK. So what goes on there? Portuguese seafood, fish – and carne, of course. So something for everyone, although maybe less for solidly plant-based diners.
What should I eat? Firstly, what shouldn’t you eat? The menu boasts some tempting small plates, including clams, mussels and gambas a la plancha, but our starter of calamari was, to be honest, underwhelming. Comprising of half a dozen rings (for £7.50) the fried squid had little flavour and was texturally almost solid: we could have sworn the filling was potato. When we politely mentioned this to the friendly staff member, she chirruped: “thank you for your honesty!” with little other explanation.
Did it get better? Thankfully, yes. As a Portuguese restaurant, beef is a strong game here: our grilled sirloin (a not-too-bad price of £16.95), though a tad thin, was served spot-on medium rare. It was also topped with juicy prawns, expertly sliced golden-fried patatas, and incredibly tasty rice (why is it always so much better in a restaurant than at home?).
Best dish? There was one clear winner, however: grilled octopus, which was armed with what the menu called ‘punched’ potato (simply crushed, boiled ones) and a Sunday-roast style side of broccoli, carrots and sweet onions. The tentacles were butter-soft, charred beautifully, the vibrant lemon sauce rich with butter. This is a lovely dish – with an £18.95 price tag to match.
The interior: discuss. Quite basic, with some neon strip lighting that could, perhaps, be swiftly replaced with a dimmer switch and even a candle or too. It was all socially distanced, however, and functional in that familiar Mediterranean way where the emphasis is simply on the food.
And what do I drink? We enjoyed a delicious red Portuguese Douro, at just over twenty quid a bottle.
What’s the service like? Friendly and confident.
Do say: ‘That’s surely the best octopus in the postcode.’
Don’t say: ‘It’s how much?’
Oceano London, 381 High Road Leyton E10, open daily.