Porto weekend August 2011
Quick report from spending the weekend in Porto.
Over-riding impression is of an architecturally beautiful city falling to bits and a struggling economy but really friendly people and really good food and wine. Good transport system. Mainly French, Spanish + Italian tourists.
Market – Mercado del bolhao. Choose the more popular of the 2 restaurants in the market (the centre one). Nothing is more than €3 or €4 – squid, salad + potatoes €4 I think – excellent and really fun atmosphere. You sit next to the fish stalls where they no doubt buy their fish.
Pedro dos Frangos – specialises in bbq chicken which you see on rows of skewers over hot coals as you walk in. Something like €8 for chicken + home made chips for 2 people. Wine no more than €8-10 for top end and a few euro for starters + salads. Brilliant. Mostly locals. Favourite meal of the trip.
DOP – Rui Paula. The posh meal of the trip. €140 for 2 for a la carte, wine + 2 glasses port. Very good food – I would say approaching 1 Michelin star level but not there yet, especially not in terms of service. Even on a la carte you get 3 “free” mini dishes. No standout dish but nice touches here and there and fish / shellfish cooked accurately.
Excellent wine list – c 20-30 pages of Portugese wines starting at €15.
Issues – service far too fast, mains arrived literally within 2-3 minutes of clearing starters. Ridiculous – ruined the evening. The chef himself tours the restaurant + doesn’t cook which is not necessarily an issue. We also pointed out that they had forgotten the wine from the bill and didn’t get a thank you for saving them €30 – only a reprinted bill. So they didn’t get any money for service - even a thank you or a free choccie or grappa would have sufficed. On balance I would look at other top end restaurants in porto if I returned, but it does have a central location.
Elsewhere, toasted sandwiches / savoury pastries in bars are a good bet for snacks during the day, and sweet pastries seem to be good across the city. Espresso in bars €0.55 – which is not a misprint!
Port wine tasting – wonder up away from the river towards Taylors and Offley, bit quieter less tourists. Kopke – fairly posh but good staff. Offley – good staff and tasting room. Sandemans + Calem v touristy. Quevedo – free tasting + nice tasting room. Try lagrima port as good value alternative to sweet white wine – hard to find in the UK. Worth considering stocking up after customs at the airport – reckon prices are 10-20% higher than at the port houses but still far cheaper than back home and they can go hand luggage. Good for cheap presents – ie €8-10 for a bottle of anything (except LBV).