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Portuguese chowdown at the Grubstake: report

Windy | Mar 17, 200501:20 PM

16 hounds gathered at the Grubstake last night to try the Portuguese menu. (Someone needs to teach me to say "no.") We sampled all the Portuguese offerings from the regular menu plus one special. Krys also cleaned out a Portuguese bakery in Hayward, and Susan and Henry and I filled out the mix with cherry liquor and fado CDs. All in all, it was a successful evening.

Courses included:
caldo verde
salad and olives
shrimp with molho de alho
bacalhau (salt cod) a gomes de sau with potatoes, onions, eggs, and olives
pork chops à Alentejana
steak with garlic and fried egg
clams with pork (special of the day)
flan and rice pudding

Encouraged by the $5 corkage, we also brought several bottles of vinho verde, a douro, a few other red wines, and a 1994 Dow vintage port.

My general thoughts: the highlights were the bacalao, perhaps the perfect hangover food, and the heavily seasoned pork chops and potatoes that came with them. The linguiça in the caldo verde was flavorful and is available with eggs or on a sandwich. I found the soup thinner than when I've made it, although the kale was sweet, not bitter, and a bit of piiri piiri sauce didn't hurt.

I've tried bacalao before including in Portugal and never liked it before, but this was delicious, especially with an extra bit of olive oil. The entrees came with small portions of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, a welcome healthy touch. The flan was fine if undistinguished; Derek and Malik claimed one flan was better than the other, but I'll leave that for them to debate.

This is not haute cuisine (not with us passing bags of smuggled in rolls amd cookies covertly under the table). But I'd happily return for more than a burger and a milkshake. Maybe easier for a table of 4 than 16. Service was extremely accommodating considering who they were dealing with. And remember, cash only.

Total came to $30 each including tax, generous tip, and corkage. You could spend much less and leave happy. Comments, please!

Link: http://sfgrubstake.com/menu/index.html

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