Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Portucale was going to be an interesting meal, in a fearing for the worst sort of way. It was a dining room described as a “panoramic restaurant” (*gag*), it had been designed around the 70s and not updated since, and the word of the street (internet street) was that the food and service was also trapped in that magical decade.

And it was all pretty much spot on.

But you know what, it wasn't that bad. I dare say it was actually a good night. Albeit with a bit of outside help. But let me backtrack.

The dining room was nearly empty when we arrived and were presented with the menus. Yep, totally stuck in the 70s. More traditional Portuguese dishes sat alongside “international cuisine” staples of that decade. We decided to play it safe(r) and opt for the Portuguese sounding things that couldn't be messed up.

And it pretty much worked. Clams in garlic butter was a good, simple starter.

The mains were equally good. Wild boar with chestnuts was good, and the kid stewed in red wine was simple but comforting and delicious.

To accompany the mains I opted for a wine that had no chance of succeeding. A cheap Portuguese red from 1985, when I'm pretty sure it costed around 10 cents.

They retrieved it from the cellar/time machine (or wherever they keep their wines) and it was utterly caked in dust. You could barely see the label. And to decant it they opted for the old school method of using a candle to avoid decanting sediment, which, at this stage of maturity, probably represented around 20% of the wines total volume.

They offered a taste and I was all ready to drink vinegar. They called it a special wine, and I thought that was a joke. But the funny thing was that it was actually really good. Delicious. Matured and well structured.

And it was about that time that the fireworks started. Not in the restaurant or in the food or the wine. Outside in the city. An endless barrage of fireworks began and lit up the entire city, for which we had a perfect and complete view. Turns out there was some international fireworks symposium on in Porto and they were putting on a demonstration. A demonstration which went for something insane like an hour.

The main courses were utterly huge so we avoided the dessert cart (which looked alright) and opted for some cheese from the cheese cart (which looked a bit sadder).

We had that and, fireworks still going, we had a coffee before leaving.

Was it stuck in the 70s? Totally. But the 70s had some good things about them. Maybe it was a little overpriced compared to other places in Porto, but it's a pretty cheap city so that isn't saying much. If an international fireworks symposium is on, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

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