There was something very disquieting about our dinner at Pedro Lemas; actually several somethings. One could never, never quibble about the food--you could not do better preparation-wise or taste-wise. Everything was delicious. And I was somewhat prepared for the formality of the restaurant, or so I thought. I had read a lot about Porto restaurants and saw Pedro Lemas mentioned so often I knew we had to eat there, but I could not access the menu through their website or any website. So I had no real preconceptions.
But being on vacation in lovely Portugal and having eaten already at many great places we were not prepared for not only the formality of PL but the sheer weight of eating there. Nowhere had I seen mentioned the enormous commitment of TIME it would take to eat there-- our meal stretched 3 1/2 hours, and not by our choice. There seemed to be a deliberate effort to stretch the courses longer and longer, with pre-amuse bouches and amuse bouches; post-main sorbets and wine pourings. The price was a surprise too, as I had never, as said above, been able to access a menu online-- well over €125 a person (we chose the 5 course tasting menu)....and I have absolutely no issue with paying big €€€€ for a great dinner.
But the meal was just....ponderous. The servers wore gloves, changed silverware every one of 7 or 8 courses (including the amuses), choreographed the servings with flourishes and explanations..... we are NYCers and pretty well-travelled but this was just .....a drag. I found myself antsy by the main courses and itching to get out before dessert, and I was one of a party of six who all concurred. We practically jumped on the waiter by dessert to bring the bill (we politely waited until then) and actually,passed on our (included) after-dinner wines because it was almost 1AM and we were so antsy. If it had been a lively atmosphere, or more fun, we would have enjoyed lingering. But we found the formality oppressive and more important, not fun. It totally detracted from the food.