We’ve long been low-key fans of the authentic Portuguese cafe on Leyton High Road, with its £2 strong americanos, £4.50 draught pints of cold Super Bock and £3.95 house vino. Its lunches are good too (read our recent review here).
So we were stoked to see that it’s finally taken over the long-vacant Sangria tapas place next door and turned it into Palmeira Restaurant, billed as “Portuguese dishes with a Madeiran vibe”.
On an arctic night this week we stepped into its simple, rustic, fairy-light strewn interior and ordered a well-priced Portuguese house red for £16.90: surely no other E10 licensed premises offers value like this.
On the menu are sharing platters (pork, beef or seafood) along with speciality dishes including bacalhau, a signature sirloin steak, squid and prawn skewers and a curious-sounding swordfish with passion-fruit and fried bananas (maybe next time).
There’s also a tempting menu of around 20 tapas dishes, and these were the target of our first visit (all priced between £5-9.50). Aside from a slightly underwhelming bowl of just four run-of-the-mill calamari rings (at £8.50), the plates otherwise impressed: octopus a la gallega comprised butter-soft slices of tentacle and soft potato with the kick of paprika, gooey garlic sausage croquettes proved rather moreish, and a dish of signature salt cod was loaded with heady garlic, onion, fennel and olives. Yes, garlic is a thing.
The highlight, however, was a simple pair of lamb chops, juicily pink and – from now on we decided – a must-order. Garlic-strewn bread, decent oil and a crisp salad all helped things along too.
As with all tapas restaurants, the bill can rack up despite the reasonable individual prices – but thankfully that super good-value wine keeps things relatively affordable. And there’s plenty more to explore next time – so we’ll be back.