Dining at this popular Portuguese restaurant is an informal, nearly intimate experience. You may get to know your neighbors as much as your main course.
But that's part of the appeal at the ever-friendly eatery. Despite lapses, especially when every seat is taken, the food can be pretty good. You'll probably have to wait for your table, either at the bar or in the entryway. Dining at the bar is an option, whether you're sampling a Portuguese beer or wine, or just surveying the scene. Enjoy the evocative decor that brings you a bit closer to the old country.
The octopus salad is a tender affair, well-dressed and finished with potatoes and scallions. Grilled sardines, smoky and mild, come with a light, fresh tomato dressing. Grilled squid gets a boost from a lemon, dill and shallot vinaigrette. Fried calamari materialize crisp and plentiful. And the obligatory, well-seasoned chourico sausage is delicately torched tableside. Continue the porkfest with a bracing, thickly cut chop under a mantle of concentrated sweet onion-and-roasted red pepper sauce and atop mashed potatoes and spinach. Or nibble on grilled pork ribs, buttressed by fries and coleslaw. Fries and broccoli back the satisfying roasted chicken. Dessert: flan.
Caldo verde, the hearty soup with greens and sausage, is underseasoned. So are the combo of cubed pork and clams; and the pan-roasted cod with peppers, onions, broccoli and boiled potatoes. Shredded cod mixed with spuds, onions, eggs and parsley is equally bland. Cod croquettes need more crunch and flavor. Likewise, the dull, meat-packed croquettes sealed in a panko crust. Basmati rice-and-Portuguese cheese balls on a "puddle of shallot cream sauce" could use a spark, too.
THE BOTTOM LINE