About

"The reluctant Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

As Salgadeiras (Lisbon) -- Restaurant Review

Rua das Salgadeiras, 18 - 1200-396 Lisboa
 (Bairro Alto)
Tele: 21 342 11 57
Website: http://assalgadeiras.no.sapo.pt/
Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
4- Star...........................................................................................................................2.5 - Bell


I don’t normally review restaurants outside of France, but this deserves special recognition.  We truly had an amazing dining experience.

For many restaurants in Lisbon the outside or facade can be very misleading.  Some of the exteriors are downright ugly, but as you walk in, some of them can be real gems, such as As Salgadeiras.  Located in the trendy neighborhood of Bairro Alto, it was an old bakery that has since been converted into a restaurant. The wine storage area was actually the original oven. Just a forewarning, there's one long table that is shared, so if you don't like sharing with strangers, ask for a private table.

We tried to make reservations on my birthday; however, the restaurant was booked. So, one evening we decided to walk around the neighborhood and it was quite early, maybe 7:30 pm, although we weren’t hungry and it was empty we asked, and they had one table available. 

It’s beautiful, quaint, and absolutely has lots of character.  The staff are super, super friendly, and they all helped one another. They were also very engaging, so unlike the French rigidity of service.

We perused the menu and although by Portuguese standards quite expensive, by French standards it was on par.  I do not like port, because I find it too, too sweet; however, our waiter recommended a dry port, which they called branco, which I later learned means white.  It had the characteristics of a port wine, but a little dryer. It actually grew on me.



For our couvert we had a trio of butter with garlic, black olives, a tuna mousse, and a local cheese called "Azeitao".      
I had it at a few other restaurants and I have to say, I love this cheese made with sheep’s milk.  It’s rich, creamy and quite strong.







ENTRÉES



Pan-fried prawns with butter – It was served in a small terra cotta pot. It was quite hot and if you don’t like garlic stay away from this.  This dish reminded me of escargots, but without the escargot rather with prawns.  It was good, no complaints. Buttery rich and salty good. You definitely need bread to sop of the butter.  My friends were concerned I would have the lingering effects of too much garlic the following day, oh well! I’m enjoying, they’ll just have to suffer!





Portuguese Sausage from Chaves with Scrambled Eggs – I loved this dish, it reminded me of spam and eggs.  I know, I know, a lot of people are probably cringing, but when you grow up with spam/eggs it becomes comfort food.  One comforting thought, it wasn’t made with spam, but made with a delicious local meaty pork sausage.  I could’ve eaten this for a main course.







Octopus Tartare – Oh My God, saved the best for last. This was our favorite. The octopus was so tender and succulent, and the balsamic with the olive oil just added to the overall deliciousness of the dish. If I go back, I would order two of these and make it a main dish.



PLATS:

Codfish “à Zé do Pipo” Style – This was a layered dish of cod, locally known as bacalao (salted, dried cod), which is the national dish of Portugal, even though cod is not indigenous to Portugal and they have import it. This dish is layered with cod, spinach, potatoes, and topped off with a blue corn bread crust.  Cod can be very salty, but the spinach, potatoes and crust helped tame it. The dish was nothing special, but good none-the-less. The one thing that was off putting for me, was I was told it was corn bread, and even the English menu had corn bread, but all it really was, was crust and the color was very, very off-putting, a horrible gray.  Personally, if the crust had been replaced with a pastry crust, or puff pastry, it would’ve been an excellent dish.




Lamb “Monção” Style – Although it was called lamb on the English menu, the waiter explained it was actually goat.  Different parts of the goat were served. I was very, very surprised, because typically I associate goat with stews, but it came grilled, and way, way over-done, thank God for “brown” gravy. It was accompanied with chestnuts and spinach.  The chestnuts were excellent; however, the spinach was way overdone.





Wild Asparagus “Migas” w/ Pork Tenderloin – The dish was very good. The pork was tender, seasoning was spot on, and the asparagus was also good.  It was folded into a sort of dumpling that resembled an omelet.







DESSERTS:





“Conventual” Sweet Eggs – This was a custardy cake topped with a star anise (star anise whole is not edible). For those with a sweet tooth, you will love this dish. It was a very good sweet dessert. However, for me it was just too sugary.







Apple Tart w/ Whipped Cream or Ice Cream – Basically the same as a tarte aux pommes. The tart was layered in very thin slices of apples. It was good and the accompanying ice cream made it feel almost American, “a la mode”. No that's not a candle, it's actually a cinnamon stick. 







Pasteis de Belem – We had mentioned earlier to the staff that it was my birthday.  I was surprised with a small custard pie with a little candle. I don’t normally eat sugar, but this is so delicious, I didn’t want to share it. The crust was nice and crunchy and the custard velvety.

And, when I thought all was said in done, they gave me a dessert port on the house.  In fact, they gave us all a port and a second serving of their house port.


SUMMARY:

I would definitely recommend this restaurant for the overall experience and excellent service.  The restaurant staff’s attention to detail is impeccable.  We actually saw the waiter setting up some tables using a ruler to ensure the plates, chairs etc., were properly placed.  And, the service was outstanding. Only minor complaints that I have, I personally don't like garnishes that you can't eat, e.g., cinnamon stick and star anise. And, they definitely didn't want us to leave, it took us a half an hour to get our bill. One sad note; we had commented on how many languages were spoken (and language versions of the menu) and the waiter said that nearly all of the clients are foreign as many travel articles highly recommend the restaurant and it is a somewhat high price point for locals.

For three of us with a bottle of wine which unfortunately I can’t remember the name, but do remember it was good, our bill came to 162€ and we left a 20€ tip!








 

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