And in fact, José' very own place, run by José and himself. Serving traditional hearty Portuguese coastal cuisine with robust (good) wines, at very competitive prices, right in the heart of Faro.
Actually we stumbled on José' 7 Mares (that's "seytt mhuresh" or Seven Seas) ... stumbled is actually the wrong word as we walked on by the first time, on our way to O Chapparo, further up the Rua do Alportel. But O Chapparo was closed and we came back, again passing 7 Mares becasue there were only 2 people in, engrossed in the football match on the large televison set (which seem to be ubiquitous in Portuguese restaurants and cafes). It was a Thursday night, maybe that's normal, who knows !?.
Anyway, after glancing in Taska, which had nobody, we decided 7 Mares was the better bet because it was also well lit (not brightly, just right, in dark reddish orange tones), with a full glass frontage, to let us enjoy a view of the steet as we dined. And it could barely seat more than about 16 people at a stretch... we prefer small.
The menu was typical Portuguese "snack bar"ish and I was sceptical, I'll admit it. But we went strainght for it, I for the grilled sea bass, Bro for the pepper sauce steak, both recommended by Jose.
While we waited we had plenty of bread bread, olives, oil & vinnegar and a bottle of the house red to keep us busy. The wine was good... actually, it seems in Portugal, even the cheap wine is good.. apparently the local people would have a fit, as in common with the French, the Portuguese do pride themselves on their food and drink.
And when the food came, it was not a disappointment. First of all, it had been cleverly butterflied open in a way I've never seen before, allowing it to be grilled to perfection, with the bones toasted to a safe crispiness from the open side. With a bit of the lemon served with it, it was worthy of a top Cotswold restaurant where you'd pay £20+ for it. Ok, the mangetout served with it had had the life steamed out of it, but the boiled potatoes were perfect. And it wasn't just the wine talking.
Bro was pleased with his steak, and I had a bite, it was moist and tender, the pepper sauce with just the right creaminess and pepper.
I take my hat off to Jose, that he can run this enterprise on his own, and do it so well.
The only thing José needs to work on are his veggies.
From all accounts he has only just opened 7 Mares, and not even had time to make a proper name sign, but I'm sure we shall be hearing more of "José e seu lugar" (Jose and his place) in Faro.
PS: We had intended to return to 7 Mares on our last day in Faro for lunch before the flight back home, but were delayed getting back to the city and had to go straight to the airport... mores the pity, I still dream of that robalos grelhado.
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