Posts Tagged ‘cabanas restaurant review’
This bar, which serves light meals and tapas is a recent addition to the newly renovated sea front in Cabanas, run by the people behind the Meeting Room night club in Tavira. The Cabanas-based play-on-words name is, I guess, either cheesy or “post-ironic” depending on how you look at it….
Before I proceed with the review I would point out that we visited in the peak of the August tourist season and very soon after the place had opened – certain things I will criticise could very well be put down to teething problems and we certainly recognised enough good about the place to warrant a second-chance return visit.
The bar had trendy décor which made us think of a London cocktail bar and laid-back tunes to match – a very welcome change from the “101 Drunken Holiday Classics” nonsense
blasting out of a lot of Algarve bars.
On the night we visited, it seemed to us that the bar was rather shocked by how many people had chosen to eat from their tapas menu and it was clear to everyone that the staff and kitchen were struggling to keep up.
The staff seemed to us to be great bar staff with no experience of food service – numerous orders were getting lost and mixed up. There were a lot of disgruntled people around and we particularly felt for a table next to us who were kept waiting well over an hour for their food and eventually let their children go next door for pizza.
The poor service was a shame as the food was really quite special. The whole crab was beautifully fresh and well-presented and the brown meat / mayonnaise combination served in the main shell was as tasty as any I have tried. It was also half the price I recently paid in Lisbon. It was a shame the hammer and crab-tools didn’t arrive until we had nearly finished struggling through with a knife and fork!
The fried prawns (ordered in place of the tempura prawns which were out of stock), were absolutely huge, and the portion very big. Again these were surprisingly cheap – half the price that other places in Cabanas are charging for smaller, less tasty prawns. The sardine bruschetta were delicious and made with fresh sardine fillets rather than the tinned ones I expected to see.
A theme started to emerge: the portions we were getting were far in excess of what we would consider to be tapas, and the prices far lower than we would expect. No bad thing, but not quite right.
As I said at the start of the review, due to the infancy of this place, there are sure to be teething problems and the components of the place are spot on – just what Cabanas needs to bridge the gap between touristy bars and traditional “snack bar” establishments.
The chef clearly has flair, the environment is pleasant and the food menu a welcome change from the other almost identical restaurant menus. I am fairly confident that once some tweaks have been made – especially to prices and portion sizes – this will be somewhere we continue to visit.
To finish off I should mention that if you venture up two flights of stairs at Copacabanas there is a tiny roof terrace with sofas and great views – nothing is made of it, so you could easily not realise it was there. It is a great place to enjoy a cocktail – and the morangoskas we tried here were extremely good…..don’t tell too many people
We really like this place. So much so that I was initially undecided as to whether to post this review for fear of it becoming over-run with people, but it would be unfair to keep it to ourselves.
Sabores Da Ria is located on the newly renovated sea-front at Cabanas, and its outside terrace has fantastic views over the Ria Formosa and the beach beyond.
It is an unassuming venue, with plastic chairs and tables, and the sign outside offering, amongst other things, “the best fish and chips in town,” actually put us off giving it a try initially. It was only a recommendation from a local friend who told us that not only was the food very good and inexpensive, the claim about the fish and chips was true as well, we felt compelled to have a go.
First things first: despite the fish and chips (and a few other English influences on the menu,) this is a basic and traditional Portuguese restaurant. Nothing happens fast, and if you are somebody who will huff and puff if you wait too long for your menu, drinks, or bill, you are in the wrong place (and, it could be said, the wrong country!)
Everything is worth the wait. The couvert offerings are home-made, always a good sign in Portugal, and on our visits consisted of some delicious marinated mushrooms, containing enough garlic to scare of the most determined of vampires, and a home-made tuna pate.
We have visited a few times, and had guests with us, so we have between us tried many of the dishes. There certainly seem to be some English influences in the choice of main courses. The fish pie was covered in perfect mashed potato and was labelled as “the best I have eaten,” by my wife who enjoyed the greater variety of fish held within than would typically be found in England, including tender squid.
The fish and chips had to be tried out, and although they were not quite what I would describe as proper “chip-shop” fish and chips, provide us with a perfect substitute in-between visits to the UK – three small fillets of white fish, free of bones, accompanied with tasty home-made tartar sauce and even a dollop of mushy-pea puree.
Worth a special mention is the prawn curry, very rich and creamy with a generous amount of large prawns. Only just past a korma in terms of heat, this is no replacement for a hot madras, but as milder curries go, it outclasses what we have found in the local Indian restaurants for a much lower price.
Finally, the local clams were delicious and properly purged of sand, a detail that seems to get missed in a surprising number of places in the peak of the tourist season, and these are also available as a tapas dish. This suits us just fine as a glass of wine and a few clams is the perfect snack on the way home from the beach.
Wines are from a standard, small Portuguese list, and fairly priced. They had sold out of Monsaraz and Monte Velho on both of our visits but this meant we ended up trying out their own-label house white, which was perfectly pleasant with a dryness that worked well with the rich fish dishes we enjoyed (pictured.)
As you are probably guessing we rather like this place, and it seems strange to us that we found some of the best food and views in Cabanas at the place with the lowest prices. For this reason, please do go and visit, but don’t tell too many people….