Apparently the custom in Portugal is for the servers to set a plate of starters down in front of you and if you want to eat it you can, but if you do, you pay for it. We had a plate of three things set in front of us: cheese (akin to feta) in olive oil, some sort of mashed tuna salad, and some olives. We chose to eat only the cheese, which was actually not bad. The chili flakes sprinkled in the oil gave the cheese a nice subtle kick that paired well with the saltiness.
|Complete with an aperitif of a local Port wine|
We then ordered the dates wrapped in ham, fried sardines, grilled octopus and grilled cod. We figured since we were in a place that is known for its seafood we should just go for it. The ham wrapped dates were delicious. The smokiness and saltiness from the ham cut the sweetness of the dates perfectly. My only complaint is that I would have liked the dates to be a little softer in texture since they were somewhat toothsome (best word I could use to describe it).
|Nothing ham doesn't make better|
The fried sardines were nice even if there was a crunch of grit from the parts that had not been cleaned properly. They could have been a little crispier since they were simply dredged in flour then fried in a pan. Tempura style or something similar definitely would have been the way to go.
|Wish they had left the heads on...|
The best thing we had was the grilled octopus. It was amazingly tender and tasted like...well...octopus, but really good octopus. It wasn't in the slightest bit fishy. It had the perfect amount of char to it and the crunchy little suckers on the tentacle itself were fantastic.
|Big meaty tentacles of octopus, delish.|
Easily the worst dish of the night and trip. The cod. Perhaps it was bacalao (salt cod) that had simply not been re-hydrated properly, or maybe it was just overdone (and I mean WAY overdone) on the grill. Regardless it was bad. It was dry, not flakey and tender as good bacalao or regular cod should be. I was pulling strings of the dry cod out of my teeth for the rest of the trip. Only saving grace were the silky smooth roasted red peppers and the deliciously bitter broccoli rabe.
|Everything was sprinkled with paprika, but even that couldn't save this dish|
Final Grade: B+, €69,00 for two, not cheap, but not overly expensive especially considering where we were eating (tourist central, right on river). Besides the disastrous cod dish, everything was quite tasty.