O Portao stands out from the multitude of restaurants in the Old Town by avoiding most of the pushiness that goes with competing for the lower visitor numbers in the winter months, relying instead on reputation and good food. Our meal was for a birthday and we were happy to pay a little extra. In late November no booking was needed and we were not cajoled off the street as with most of its neighbours. Once inside (it was a bit showery at the time), we noticed one of the more expensive wines was a type we had never heard of, but the waiter pointed out that it was made in the Barrada region of Portugal from a particular grape (Baga) that the owner liked and was unlikely to be on any other wine list in Funchal because it was not to everyone's taste. He suggested something else cheaper but we persevered with it and split down the middle in its favour; it actually went best with the fruity dessert despite being a red wine. I needn't say much about the food; it was first class. The menu might look similar to others in the Old Town but we had different dishes cooked to perfection and each seeming to have some extra ingredient or two that made it stand out. The staff are well aware of British preferences and willing to talk about the dishes and their preparation. They fully understand that they are there to look after the customers, make them feel part of the restaurant for a couple of hours, and ensure they come back. We will.
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