We came here with friends to celebrate our joint anniversaries. There were four of us. Our friends had been here before and liked it but, as we entered, I wasn't expecting much....the basement of an bank building with offices, what!!? Actually the restaurant was pleasant -looking, white table cloth, maybe a tad stodgy. That was fine with me since I like to have a conversation at dinner, not sit in chaos, with noise, loud world music, squeezed into a tiny table overhearing everyone else's conversations.
This was an authentic old-style European restaurant. Extensive Portuguese/Mediterranean menu.
We had reservations at 6 and the dining room was nearly empty. The maitre'd seated us near the serving station,and the door to the kitchen. Our friend asked if we could have another table that was in a quieter area. Maitre'd said no, they were full with reservations for the evening. Our friend looked around and said, But we're here now, shouldn't we have a choice of tables? The maitre'd relented and put us at a tiny table in the middle of the room. Well, again, that was OK with me since it was cozy but it was hard to get all the plates on the table and my husband had to put the bread basket on the floor.
I hadn't read any reviews before we came here but I did just now before writing this review. We had the old-school waiter one reviewer complained about. I have to chuckle and can imagine that scene. For us, the waiter recited the long list of specials rapidly with an impressive perfect memory and precise diction but his accent was a bit hard to understand. I didn't mind that since I don't order specials usually. This time, I caught the word gazpacho and decided to order it. My husband had another special, the beef barley soup which I thought was an odd thing to have on the menu since the temp outside was over 100 degrees. Husband said the soup was fine. My gazpacho was the typical pureed orangy gazpacho you get in Spain served at room temperature. Garlicky with croutons. I love garlic.
Drinks: we didn't have wine. Friends had beer. I asked for sparkling water (Perrier) which never came. When I asked about it after everyone else else was served drinks, waiter said it only came in a big bottle. Well, why didn't he tell me that before? I would have taken the big bottle. But...no big deal.
Entrees: I ordered the Monkfish from the menu. Very good, could have used more seasoning. I couldn't get the silver salt and pepper shakers to work. Oh well. I tried to unscrew the tops but couldn't. Ate my monkfish the way it was. In all fairness, I like more salt/pepper/spices than most people. Husband ordered the Hake but they were out of it. So then husband and one friend ordered the cassoulet special. It was spectacular but included a good sized lobster tail with a hard shell. The struggle to get the lobster meat out of the shell was compounded by the sauces in the cassoulet. My friend tied her napkin around her neck and said she wished they had bibs, she didn't know the lobster in the cassoulet would be served like that. After giving it a try, she flagged down a food runner and asked him to bring back her lobster tail to the kitchen and have them take it out of the shell. He blanched, hesitated, and then bowed and did what she asked. I wondered if they gave him hell back in the kitchen. She asked you to do what? These fussy Americans! Other friend had the strip steak that he ordered medium and it was well done. No big deal.
Desserts. The waiter was really pushing the poached pear. I don't like poached pear. None of us wanted poached pear. He looked disappointed/irritated when we ordered just one flan to share (on the menu as "Caramel cream".). I can see where this attitude could be intimidating and could escalate. But perhaps management had a little talk with the waiter after the last incident.
When we left, the dining room wasn't full...just fuller than it had been when we came.
Yes, I'd come back. This place is the real thing. .
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