In Portugal you eat late. Much later than what we do here at home in Sweden. Around the time I feel it's time for an afternoon coffee, most people in Portugal seem to want to go to lunch. We had read about a Michelin recommended restaurant in Nazaré – Taberna D'Adelia - where they would serve really good fish. It was only about 12 o'clock, so we took a chance and went there without a reservation. We were out in good time. The Portuguese shouldn't be hungry yet, should they?
We find the restaurant in a small cross alley from the promenade. The restaurant does not have outdoor seating like the nearby restaurants, but is rather anonymous with a white sign with black text.
We open the door and go inside. A murmur of people meets us. It's basically full. Another married couple comes through the door shortly after us. They also want a table. The waiter looks around and divides the only table left. Go ahead, he says and runs off.
The walls of the restaurant are filled with old photos, blue mosaics and clippings from newspapers. By the wall by which we are sitting, a small city is built, with windows, doors and curtains.
I get the seat next to the fish counter closest to the exit. A red snapper stares at me with its big eyes from the ice bath. This feels a bit difficult. I can order some other fish. Someone who doesn't stare at me.
The menu comes out on the table. Would you like something to drink? A bottle of wine? No thanks, we drive. The waiter looks at us like he doesn't understand. It will be a coke. I look around. A bottle of wine is on every table. No one drives a car or everyone drives a car? I hope for the first option.
I order cod. Bacalao. The Portuguese cod. So far I have not had a good experience with this national dish. But if I'm going to try it somewhere, it should be at a fish restaurant. I forget to check if it is "fresco". The man orders a combo of fried shrimp, squid and monkfish. The daughter can't decide, so there will be a bacalao for her too.
The snack comes in. The things that the restaurants put on the table and that you have to pay for if you don't send it back right away. But we really don't want to send this snack back. Salt-grilled prawns, good olives, bread with some mix and a creamy cheese. Yes, exactly yes. We also got those classic little salted small fish that are so common here in Portugal. We still haven't figured out how to eat these, so they'll have to be left to their own devices. But everything else was really good.
The couple at the next table have eaten all their salted small fish. I forgot to look for how they actually did when they ate their fish. Did they gnaw on the legs? Did they leave the head? Or did they eat the head?
The red fish is still staring at me. It feels like the fish have come a little closer to us? Fish are picked up and weighed all the time. The ice rattles and new fish come in. Many of the dishes are served and prepared by the kilo. But the red fish remains.
Two large plates of boiled potatoes, olives, coriander, onions and cod arrive. The man's monkfish is served on a large stand. There is so much food. The amount of potatoes would be enough for a family of five. I cut the cod apart. This was a regular bacalao, not a bacalao fresco. The taste was really good though, the first (and only!) cod in Portugal that was actually good. No legs. Well salted and with good olive oil.
The red fish is gone. Where did it go? How could I miss it?
Now there is a real queue to get a table. On a small wooden tray is a homemade fruit schnapps and some small glasses. Just take a small sprinkler while you wait for your table. The fruit schnapps is popular. It barely has time to be presented before it runs out. Some of the older men waiting tables order a bottle of bubbly. There is starting to be quite loud laughter from the waiting bench. Lovely.
Satisfied and satisfied, we round off the lunch and leave the murmur and go out into the sun and heat again. A large plate of grilled fish passes me on the way out. It felt strangely familiar somehow.
R. das Traineiras 12
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