A meeting of Portuguese and Goan cuisine is rarer than hen’s teeth, so I can’t believe just such a restaurant has opened on our doorstep! The bright blue and yellow exterior of the charmingly named Mr Todiwala’s Petiscos adds a welcome splash of colour to Queens Road – the heart of Buckhurst Hill – and it’s just as cheery and welcoming inside.
Who needs tapas?
Everyone loves tapas, don’t they? It’s a wonderful excuse to try lots of little plates rather than being stuck with one dish and spending the evening suffering from menu-choice envy. There is the slight downside of being expected to share of course, but order enough dishes and that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. In Portugal, tapas-style dishes are known as petiscos and in this delightful restaurant, they’re coupled with the most superb imported Portuguese wine. The Goan influence comes from Cyrus Todiwala, the Bombay-born chef who’s a regular on Saturday Morning Kitchen. Steven Redman-Schaffer, one of the partners here and one half of the husband and wife team behind Portuguese Vinhos, was our host for the evening and we couldn’t have had a warmer welcome. Or indeed a more delicious bottle of wine.
The menu is a treat, and we’ll certainly be coming back to sample the dishes we couldn’t squeeze in. Steve recommended four dishes, which were ample for two hungry people who were determined to leave room for pudding. We tried the Goan-style pickled prawn peri-peri, which was beautifully spicy and I would have been very happy just to curl up with a big bowl of this and a loaf of bread. Beef and chorizo balls with a tomato sauce were denser than expected and packed with flavour. From the specials board we chose two more: vegetable empanadas and beef croquetes, both with a similar sauce and both were substantial and so, so tasty. We were glad we followed Steve’s advice, as we had room to enjoy a layered coconut pancake confection and some delicately flavoured ice cream.
At Mr Todiwala’s, they support local producers and have an ethical and sustainable sourcing policy. There’s also an optional £1 charge on the bill to cover the carbon footprint of enjoying your meal. We could do with more of this approach in restaurants.
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For dinner with a difference, in a warm and welcoming setting, you would be hard-pressed to do better. The cost for two, with nibbles, main course and pudding, plus a great bottle of wine, was around £65. We think it was well worth it.
Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★★. Perfect and sparkling clean. You could eat your dinner off the floor here, but it’s more comfortable in the restaurant.
Mr Todiwala's Petiscos, 75 Queen's Rd, Buckhurst Hill IG9 5BW Wednesday, 31st July 2019