I have eaten at Solar dos Niunes at least a dozen times over the course of about 8 years. It took me awhile to learn their game, and quite a game it is! The restaurant is very small and cramped, but at the same time it is attractive and homey. The owner and waiters knew us well and always reserved our favorite table on the upper level so we were less cramped and had a good view of the whole place. Reservations are a must. Very little English is spoken, so have your hotel call. There's an English menu, but it's not complete. (There are numerous offerings that are not on the English menu.)
One thing to be aware of is that they place ALL of the items on the appetizer (tapas) menu on the table before the customers arrive. Beware! touch it, and you pay for it. Anything you don't want, you MUST tell the waiter to take it off the table. Otherwise, you'll be charged. Several times, I made the mistake of just diving in and finishing off everything without thinking. It's all delicious, but it gets bloody expensive.
The food is, for the most part, excellent. The chef always came out to greet us as soon as we were seated - he knew us from having seen us so often. I was very seldom disappointed, and if I said anything it was immediately taken care of. Solar dos Nunes became our must-visit place on every trip, and I felt like a traitor if we didn't go there at least once every time we were in Lisboa.
That all ended after a disaster that I thought would kill me. On my last visit, my partner insisted on having dessert. I was so full that I really didn't feel like stuffing myself any more than I already had, but I succumbed to the orange cake (a simple, moist, tasty cake with an orange sauce.) It tasted fine, but apparently the sauce was made with uncooked or undercooked eggs that were harboring the dreaded salmonella. The effects started before we even got back to our hotel. By the time I got to the room, I knew I was in serious trouble. I had a flight out the next day around noon, and by that time I was debating whether to go to the airport or the hospital. Without going into the gory details, I'll just say it was a stroke of extremely good luck that I packed clean underwear in my carry-on bag. The flight was one I'll never, ever forget. I was in first class and was assigned my very own lavatory where I spent nearly the whole flight.
I gave Solar dos Nunes 3 stars only because of the many excellent meals I had there over the years. However, I will never be able to get over the memory of the worst case of food poisoning I could ever imagine. It took about 4 days for me to fully recover, and it's not something I ever want to go through again.
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