Restaurants & Bars

Day 5 in Portugal

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Day 5 in Portugal

Tom Armitage | Jun 1, 2000 05:27 AM

Thursday, May 25. Today we again traveled south of the Tagus River, this time to the town of Seixal and a restaurant there named O Pescador, a favorite of Alpha Dog. Although we arrived shortly after the traditional lunch hour, we were amazed to find that we were the only customers in the restaurant. We started with two appetizers, Pataniscas de Bacalhau (salt cod fritters) and Polva de Vinagrete (octopus salad in vinaigrette). The fritters were perfectly fried, crisp and non-greasy outside, with a tasty salt cod filling. The octopus salad was likewise delicious with tender chunks of octopus in a good dressing of olive oil and vinegar with onions and fresh cilantro. For an entrée, my wife and I shared the Arroz de Marisco Espacial (Lagosta), which Jim Leff described perfectly as a sort of soupy rice dish with seafood, which in this case included lobster. It was served in a huge cast iron pot and had enough for at least four, if not six, people. With the meal, we had a delightful light, fresh 1996 Vino de Redondo. For desert, I ordered the flan, which turned out to look better than it tasted. All in all, with the exception of the flan, a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.

After lunch, we took off for the walled city of Evora, east of Lisbon. This ancient town rose to prominence under the Romans and flourished throughout the Middle Ages as a center of learning and the arts. We enjoyed walking through the walled portion of the city, with its narrow, twisting cobblestone streets, Roman ruins, ancient cathedrals, and many historical sites. When it came time for dinner, I began asking around town, at Jim Leff’s suggestion, for a restaurant that is renowned for its shark soup. Unfortunately, all I got was blank or puzzled looks. I hadn’t researched the restaurants of Evora to the same extent as I had researched restaurants in other areas, but finally decided on a restaurant named O Gremio. The problem was finding the restaurant. We were not even sure whether the restaurant was inside or outside the walled city. We stopped and asked directions from at least a dozen people, finally realizing that it was inside the walled city, and finally locating it after more than an hour of effort. The irony is that we had walked right past it earlier in the day. When we finally arrived at the restaurant, which was located in a small alley way, we were first told that it was totally booked for the evening. After searching out other very mediocre looking alternatives in the area, we returned and were allowed to wait for a table. Because of our large lunch in Seixal, my wife ordered just an entrée, while I ordered a bowl of vegetable soup and an entrée. My vegetable soup was good, not great. My wife had the specialty of the house, spareribs in a red wine and honey sauce. I had shark fillets in a coriander sauce. Both entrees were tasty, although falling short of ecstasy. The most notable part of the meal was the coriander sauce.

Overall, we decided that the food on Day 5 was enjoyable, but had not produced the highs that Day One (the eel soup), Day Two (the cream of shellfish soup, the clams “Bulhao Pato,” the coriander soup, and the baby eels), Day Three (the gooseneck barnacles), or Day Four (the roast suckling pig, the roast suckling pig, the roast suckling pig!) had produced. A very enjoyable day nonetheless.

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