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Just got back from a week long trip to Portugal and managed to experience some of the most discussed restaurants in the area. I got a lot of helpful suggestions on this forum - thanks a lot!
We spent 5 days in Libsoa and two days in Porto. Below are some quick comments on the restaurants we visited. The scores are merely reflections of our preference and personal experiences.
1. BELCANTO 3/10
The food was very international and pretty boring, frankly speaking. Even the wine pairing had nothing to remember for. We had the classic menu, which featured many of chef's signature dishes. The finishing touch on many dishes were not as fine as some others places of similarly high reputations, as we feel. Compared to other places in lisbon during our trip, the price tag at this place is 25-30% higher for similar offerings, which I guess is likely due to the reputation.
The service was OK. Some staff were very pleasant while some others had poker faces. There was a lady in bathrobe serving the tables, which was interesting. A little draw back on the service side - we were reminded of the option of adding tips during checkout. We would always add about 10-15% during this trip based on tourist guides, but this was the only time we were reminded of so during this trip.
2. ALMA 4/10
The decoration was interesting and the place looks like a bar with high ceilings. The food was ok, and the dishes actually looked somewhat finer than these at Belcanto. However, the taste was again very forgettable. There was not a single dish that really impressed us. Wine pairing was OK but lack of excitement.
3. LOCO 7/10
Thanks to Monica's suggestions, we didn't skip this place. It was very clearly better than other two Michelin places listed above IMO. The food also was international oriented and lack of huge excitement, but we could clearly feel the dedication. The service was excellent and every single servicer and kitchen staff was kind and informative. Even the head chef came to serve some of the dishes. The wine pairing was good and interesting.
4. RAMIRO 8/10
Not really even close to a fine dining place but we had a great experience. We went for lunch and the place was packed. Lots of simply cooked seafood and many groups local people eating there. We liked the garlic scallop and edible crab (which is an interesting name).
5. Casa das Bifana 7/10
We went there twice for the bifana sandwiches. Feels very local and interesting. The pork in the sandwich was delicious.
6. Solar dos Presuntos 6/10
This is one of the typical cases where we do not like the food because it is not meant for our tasting buds. The food was too salty and the fish was too firm. But the experience was nice and we did enjoy some of the dishes especially the pata negra ham.
7. OFAIA 6/10
Very interesting experience and they got pretty good singers (at least to us foreigners). The food on the other side was meh.
8. bonjardim 5/10
We ordered some piripiri chicken. very cheap and not bad at all. Just not something that would make you want to walk a few blocks for.
9. Wine tasting at Calem/Taylor. 8/10
Both are excellent. I just wish they offer better an more choices for chocolates.
10. Portus 4/10
The food really was not well cooked. The lamb we got as daily special was neither proper seasoned nor cooked. Very dry and beasty. The Francesinha was actually much better, but just too much. I understand it is in a tourist spot, but ...
11. ...but Taberna dos Mercadores was nice. 8/10
I liked their version of Arroz de Marisco much better. Not overly salty as the one we had in Solar dos Presuntos. The buring fish was nice too and everyone was friendly and pleasant.
12. TIMEOUT MARKET 5/10
We tried two places - sea me? and another wine/cheese place. Not bad but not separating themselves from other casual places on the street.
13. Pasteis de Belem 9/10
Literally the best custard tart I ever had.
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