(OPORTO, PORTUGAL) – My home away from home. I am never afraid to try all sorts of restaurants but, when it comes down to it, sometimes I tire of the overdone and artistic remnants of nouvelle cuisine which swept the world years ago. The food presentation was made to look like art.
After awhile it gets quite mundane and I’d prefer some down home cuisine in a down home setting.
I am in Porto for the September 10 Port Wine Day. The Day is over and I am on “me time” so, for the 4th time in 5 years, it is off to one of those comforting down home restaurants that always prepares a simple, but incredibly tasty, dinner.
Postigo do Carvão has always been packed on my visits, with both locals and, on my last visit, larger groups of tourists.
There is much exposed brick in this old warehouse, which has been operating for some 32 years. It’s another testament to its ability to brand itself as a Porto icon.
The green lampposts in the restaurant create an on-the-street feel. The open kitchen is spotlessly maintained, as if it’s offering a challenge; “Come see how clean I am and full of fresh food.” The white and green checkered tablecloths give it a homey feel.
I sit down to a splendid dinner with owner Alexandre Osório, who every once in awhile directs his waiters like a choreographer. He’s a hands on player. And when a large group of tourists departs he excuses himself and springs into action to help clear the tables.
No “I am the boss, you do the work” attitude.
We start off with a bottle of Alvahrinho and appetizers, with chorizo sausage, tuna pâté, feta chunks with olive oil sprinkled with oregano, meat pies, and cheese (Queso Serim Estrela). A huge baked grouper arrives with about the best roast potatoes Oporto has to offer, and a tad of sautéed cabbage on the side.
We finish off with a Molotof flan and a glass of 40 year old Tawny Port, entirely and perfectly suited to the flan.
Alex relaxes and says Postigo is about home cooking, superior service, freshness, and cleanliness. Without genuine Portuguese hospitality, Alex recounts, it would be doubtful whether Postigo would have survived 32 years.
There are fresh fish each day, and tasty they are. Nothing can beat Portuguese seafood. Alex describes his establishment as a seafood restaurant with firm principles of natural hospitality, equality, and good service to all.
It would seem the low airfares of Ryan Air and extended cruise docking facilities in Porto, combined with the people of Porto and their hospitality, the ocean, the beauty of historic Porto, and the lure of the Douro Valley, have taken Postigo to the next level. It must help that Postigo sits in the historic Ribeira District of Porto just a minute away from the Douro River.
The wine list is not extensive, but more than adequate for the food offered, and at jaw-droppingly low prices, as far as Canadian restaurant prices go. There are 15 seafood dishes and 10 meat dishes.
Considering that a grilled sea bass is €9.80, you’d pay more than double in Canada for the same meal.
There are 15 entrées including the Chourico cozido (Chorizo sausage) at €8, the Paté caseiro de atum (tuna pâté) at €2.40, and the Prathino de Presunto (smoked ham) at €4.20.
There are five salads to choose from and a vegetarian menu. And to top it off there are a whopping 14 desserts, including the Molotof flan at €4, the Queijo da Serra (regional cheese) and Bolo Regional (cinnamon cake) at €3.80.
Note all these prices include a crushing 23% VAT.
Postigo has yet to disappoint.
(Postigo do Carvão, Rua da Fonte Taurina 24 a 34, 4050 – 269 (Ribiera), Oporto, Portugal, Tel (351) 22 200 45 39. For further information contact by email.)