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Any new thoughts on Porto, Peso da Regua and Chaves?

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barberinibee Sep 7, 2012 03:51 PM

I've mined all the recent threads on Porto, but wondering if anybody has anything to add for 2012?

Also, I've not been able to dig up anything on the Douro river valley or Chaves? Any assistance regarding food or wine is welcome.

Thanks!

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    BillUbell Nov 12, 2012 03:01 PM

    My fiancé and I spent 3 days in Porto, and struggled to find a reputable restaurant that prohibited smoking (note to travelers in Portugal, this was a real struggle. Even the most highly rated restaurants usually permitted smoking somewhere in the restaurant, which, for non-smokers, essentially means everywhere. And after visiting numerous restaurants recommended on trip advisor and chowhound, we found this to be consistently true). We passed a hotel restaurant at Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira, and found the menu to be enticing...sort of a modern take on some classic Portuguese dishes. This ended up being the best restaurant we frequented in Porto. All of our dishes were exceptional, and the service was excellent. The servers were both attentive and knowledgeable without being overbearing. If you’re in Porto and looking for a reasonably priced, exceptional meal in a non-smoking environment, check this place out. And post your comments…I’d be interest to see if others had as positive of an experience as us.

    5 Replies
    1. re: BillUbell
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      barberinibee Nov 14, 2012 05:35 AM

      Even though my trip is over, I'd be interested to know what you ate, drank and roughly the cost per person. Where else did you eat in Porto and Portugal? Did you write up a trip report I could read?

      I also don't iike restaurants that permit smoking (even outside), but I can tolerate it. My main problem was locating any restaurant in Porto that really appealed. Since I was only there for a few days, I imagine there surely are some, but I didn't feel I was surrounded by an abundance of them.

      1. re: barberinibee
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        BillUbell Nov 14, 2012 07:17 PM

        We had close to 3 weeks in Portugal, so we were able to sample a lot of regional dishes. I probably preferred the Douro wines over the Dao and Alentejo, but all were good and reasonably priced (8-12 dollars per bottle). All in all the food was kind of hit or miss, but in Viseau we had quite possibly the best meal ever. It was a regional veal stew at a restaurant named O Cortico. Divine! Starter, bottle of wine, and two courses was something like 25 dollars per person. Very reasonable. Prices were similar in Evora. We had a fantastic lunch at Dom Joaquim, but nothing else to really speak of. Both Porto and Lisbon were a bit more expensive, where prices ranged from 25 to 50 per person. By far our favorite dinner in Lisbon was at Alma. That was closer to 60 per person, but we did it up that night. I wrote up a short piece on Olivier Café because it was very disappointing (although it seems to receive good reviews overall). Link to that below.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8411...

        I completely agree with you on Porto. Overall, we were very disappointed in the food there. On our last night we randomly stumbled upon a restaurant named Forno Velho in the Carris Hoteles. I’ve yet to write a review on it, but certainly will…it was very delightful! Great food, service, and very reasonably priced. I think we paid 40 a person.

        If you ever return, you must go to O Cortico! In retrospect, we wished we had stayed in Viseau for one more day, just to have another dinner there!

        1. re: BillUbell
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          LeRique Nov 16, 2012 11:41 AM

          By the way, it is Viseu. Glad to here it is still good,funky and just a fun place!

          1. re: BillUbell
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            barberinibee Nov 17, 2012 04:41 PM

            Thanks BillUbell,

            I do hope to return to Portugal and see more of it, so thanks for the tip about O Cortico and Dom Joaquim. (Overall, I think I had my best meal in Portugal in Guimaraes at Historico). I look forward to your review of Forno Velho.

            1. re: barberinibee
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              uberslop Jan 19, 2014 12:36 PM

              Hello all -- I know this thread is a bit old now, but I thought I'd inquire here before starting a new one. We're planning an 8-day loop (I know -- not enough time! there never is!) from Porto up to the Ribeira Sacra and back through the Douro. I'd love to hear of can't-miss eateries and wineries, especially if you all have been back, or have acquired new intel in the meantime! Thanks in advance for any time and thoughts!

      2. monchique Sep 8, 2012 01:50 AM

        I posted last night on a similar question:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/866952
        Nothing on Chaves except what's on Tripadvisor (with its well known limitations): www.tripadvisor.com.br/Restaurants-g3...

        5 Replies
        1. re: monchique
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          barberinibee Sep 8, 2012 11:16 AM

          Thanks very much. I'm eating at Foz Velha tonight, having just enjoyed a really delicious white port cocktail at the beautiful Yeatman.

          If we get to either Pesa da Regua or Vila Real, I'll eat at places recommended by your "expert" and report back. As of this moment, a transportation strike lurks, and we may end up renting a car and heading straight to Chaves instead.

          1. re: barberinibee
            monchique Sep 9, 2012 01:22 AM

            I woud be interested by your opinion on Foz Velha. It was my favorite place in Porto, but I have not been for a while, and have had mixed reports.

            1. re: monchique
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              barberinibee Sep 9, 2012 09:03 AM

              Will try to write up a full report when I am back home. Brief preview for the benefit of current travelers is that Foz Velha has some delicious plates, and imagination and quality of ingredients is high at the restaurant. But there are slip ups in service -- which is more earnest than precise, that should lower expectations and demands a forgiving attitude when it comes to comparing it with other "top" restaurants for international city-hopping gourmands. More later...

              1. re: barberinibee
                monchique Sep 10, 2012 08:22 AM

                Thks for that. Glad to know Chef Marco Gomes is still performing! The service has always been more friendly than efficient...

                1. re: monchique
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                  barberinibee Sep 11, 2012 09:42 AM

                  Problem is, with a tasting menu -- which are practically the only options at Foz Velha -- timing and pacing are really an important part of making the menus work. Our meal dragged on, unnecessarily, I think, and sometimes matched wines outpaced the arrival of dishes. Most deflating was that the wait staff let us hanging for what felt like forever, looking for the check so we could leave.

                  Foz Velha raises expectations high by being so far from the center, and then offering mainly tasting menus at prices that are noticeably high for Porto. I found myself thinking I wish the chef didn't have such an expansive, formal operation. He's in control of individual dishes, but not the dining experience. Some details: A window near the diners was left open, presumably to cool the room on a warm night, but it also allowed a noticeable amount of motor exhaust and noise to enter the dining room. And maybe I'm the only one who doesn't want to eat fine food listing to Michael Bolton and other schlock, but it was distracting, as was the constant clomping of the waiter staff's shoes across that uncarpeted, hollow old wood floor. I also thought diners who opted for the tasting menu should be given more guidance about the desserts. The meal came to a thud-finish. Tightening up those sort of details would be my advice, because many of the dishes we had were really fresh and bright.

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