I am living in Portugal at the moment and I have enjoyed many delicious meals so far, but Ramiro was the place I was most looking forward to coming to.
I am a big Anthony Bourdain fan- and a Mark Wiens fan too- and both seemed to love it. Plus as I live just up the hill it seemed criminal not to go!
I had two advantages before going. First, I know what the prices are like locally and therefore what is good value on the menu. Everything I chose was brilliant value but I didn't have the most expensive things. Second, I went at a time I thought there would likely to be a table for me (very early evening) and in any case I wasn't pressed for time even if I did have to queue.
I was shown to a table immediately. They seated a very pleasant Turkish couple next to me who told me at the end of the meal that they were thinking of coming back the following evening as well. We were handed 'ipad' type devices for the menu from which you could choose a variety of languages (including Turkish). One thing to note about the menu is that most of the things are priced in kg. If you want something just talk to your waiter about what is the right amount you should order. I felt absolutely no pressure from the waiter to order anything in particular. In fact at one point I asked him if I should have one or two or a menu item priced by weight and he said one (which was the correct answer, it was massive!)
I ordered a beer- I was very pleased to see they had Sagres rather than Super Bock. Lots of people here seem to prefer the latter but I find the former vastly superior.
Next I got some garlic shrimp, some garlic clams and some bread and butter. The garlic shrimp was sensational. Portuguese garlic is delicious- I find it packs a punch but is never harsh. There was a bit of chili in there too. The shrimp were probably the fattest I've ever had. The bread, which was a little like an English muffin was perfect for mopping up the garlic sauce. In fact there was so much garlic that I even created my own 'garlic bread'- sensational! The clams were much more delicate in flavour but still tasty and sweet.
Next I had the biggest prawn I've ever eaten. The flesh had the most amazing firm texture- the closest thing I can compare it to is probably lobster. For me there are few finer things in life than fresh food like this, served simply and with love.
At some time around this point the Turkish people commented that I seemed very hungry! I think I was just excited.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was great. Even though it wasn't full there was a real buzz about the place. All the staff were working hard while still taking time to joke with customers or with each other. My waiter in particular seemed like a local celebrity. Towards the end of the meal there was a large group which I realized were a film crew. They insisted he needed to be their waiter and miked him up before I left. He was such a lovely guy- just the right amount of attentive, funny and making sure each person felt special. The Turkish couple made sure they shook his hand at the end of the meal and so did I.
I finished my meal with another beer and a prego- which is considered dessert here. It is a steak sandwich with garlic. I've enjoyed it in other places but this is the best I've ever had- it was pretty rare (very much to my taste) and I liked it so much I had a second one!
I could very easily see why this place was to Anthony Bourdain's taste too. Informal and yet special, unfussy food, people who cared about you having a good time...
I know some people will think of this as a touristy place- but to me it isn't. It represents the best of Portugal- the country's generosity, open nature and delicious cuisine.
Oh, and I know this is incredibly geeky but when I got home I watched the video of Bourdain's visit again and found to my shock that the seat I had been placed at in a large restaurant was actually 'next' to him! Probably the closest to dining with him I'm going to get!
You owe it to yourself to go.