Pousada restaurants to avoid & Three restaurants to try
Pousada de Palmela has lovely rooms and is very comfortable, but the dining leaves much to be desired. Our meal there began with a crab mayonnaise mixture served in a crab shell--mushy and tasteless. The couvert was a slice of a fish terrine, which was the best dish of the meal. The grilled swordfish was overcooked and fishy.
Pousada de Sao Filipe also is comfortable, with lovely ocean views. Dinner was a disappointment. Cold octopus was too tough to eat. Traded it in for grelled sole, which was ok, but not memorable.
Sao Gabriel (near Quinta Do Lago) is an excellent restaurant. Their seafood dishes are tasty and innovative, but their treatment of breast of guinea fowl, served with mushroom polenta, is outstanding.
Henrique Leis restaurant (same general area) is even better than Sao Gabriel. The amuse bouche was a quail leg wrapped in wonton, deep fried, set on a slice of fois gras terrine. Heaven! The most innovative course was sole "bicolore". I still don't know how the chef did it. It was all sole rolled into the shape of a fat sausage, but the outer layer was alternately light and dark strips of sole. It came with a truffle ravioli.
Casa Velha, in the same area, is good but not great. The fois gras dishes were second-class, but the other dishes were tasty and perfectly cooked.
In my experience (having traveled extensively in Portugal and then living there for almost two years), pousadas are just not the best bet for eating. I was particularly disappointed by the restaurants in pousadas in Guimarães and Estremoz.
For food, you're better off following suggestions from the pousada staff or other locals. Also, outside of Lisbon -- and even there, in many cases -- price in no way reflects quality. You will often get just as good a meal (or even much better) at a place charging $10/plate as at one charging $20.
Try to get yourself some grilled cherne (bass). I've never had a bad serving of it anywhere in Portugal.