Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Restaurante All Beef, Portimão

The Algarve is a weird spot when it comes to food. You can walk into a very pedestrian looking restaurant and find yourself enjoying a plate of delectable, charcoal grilled fish. Or you can walk into a very pedestrian looking restarant and enjoy a very pedestrian meal. A lot of restaurants appear caught in a timewarp and menus often all look the same, blurring into a haze as they offer the same fare, one after the other.

So what can a person do to try and pick out the wheat from the chaff. Appeal to friends on Twitter? Tick. Use the internet? Tick. Turns out that reviews on TripAdvisor seem to favour the pedestrian restaurants. The number 1 ranked restaurant turned out to be a trip back to the 80s with reasonable food and service.  But in a region where charcoal-grillled fish transcends a diner to ecstasy, serving plain old grilled fish doesn't quite cut the mustard.

Halfway through our holiday, we decided to take a break from gorging on fresh fish. We had driven past Restaurante All Beef several times and its sleek, modern, glass-walled interior had caught our eyes. We reckoned that it would make a welcome respite from the dated restaurants that are so common on the Portimão strip. The restaurant is entered via a wooden decking with covered outdoor areas. The dining room is completely glass wall with modern, contemporary furniture, clean delph and smart wineglasses. At one end, there is a backlit wall completely filled with wine bottles, while the other end provides an open view into the kitchen.

Multilingual menus bound in rich, dark leather (as usual for the area) were presented, along with the usual couvert. We received a bread basket filled with different bread types (including an unusual sweet cornbread), along with a little tray of fresh sardine paste, olive tapenade and little cubes of fresh cheese. An excllent llight green olive oil provided yet another alternative dipping option. To top it all off, we received complementary glasses of sparkling wine as aperitifs.

Warm Scallop Starter
 For my starter I chose the warm "Au gratin cone scallop with sea flavour" while himself chose a cold starter of "Algarve style octopus salad". My scallop came very elegantly presented on a large plate and essentially featured scallop (including the coral) in a cream sauce which was then gratinated. It was packed full of scallop meat and the sauce was creamy and tasty. It was somehow extremely comforting.

Algarve Style Octopus Salad
His octopus salad came piled high on a plate. Chunks of tender, marinated octopus were simply dressed with olive oil, onions, garlic and herbs. It would have made a decent sized course on it own.

For the main, I decided to push the boat out and chose the Fillet of Beef for 2 served with Bearnaise sauce. Once cooked to your liking, this is carefully carved at the table by your waiter and served along with roasted mediterrean vegetables and rice. Once sliced, the skill with which the lean fillet was cooked became apparent. It was crispy and flavoursome on the outside, yet remained red and juicy at the core. Complemented with a light dusting of sea salt flakes, and some smears of the buttery Bearnaise sauce, this fillet of beef became a memorable dining experience. 

The total bill for our meal for 4 at All Beef, including 3 starters, 4 mains, 2 desserts and a bottle of house red wine and other drinks came to a staggeringly good value €122. Granted, it is a bit more expensive than other nearby restaurants, but you are paying for excellent food, with attentive service in a modern, crisp environment. All Beef is throwing down the gauntlet for the modern restaurant experience in the Algarve. I wonder will others follow?

Restaurante All Beef, Sítio dos Três Castelos, Praia da Rocha, Portimão, Portugal.
Tel: +351 282 496 261

1 comment

John Lindsell said...

Flying visit on my way back to San Pedro in Spain I stopped off to see an old friend in Portimao who recommended this restaurant. I can only say that the service, food and wine was of the best quality and would certainly be back again. Starter,main course and two bottles of fine wine for three people for less than 90 euros. Thoroughly enjoyed by all.

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