Cantinho do Avillez is a relaxed but smart restaurant in the Chiado district of Lisbon. It has a very good reputation and we are both excited about the prospect of lunch here.
Our excitement is not dimmed while we read through the menu and I am more than happy to see a Portuguese craft ale on the list of drinks available. Sovina Amber is brewed by Cerveja Sovina in Porto. It is very smooth with a fruity aroma and hints of malt and caramel. It is easily the nicest beer I’ve had since we have been in Portugal.
We have decided to share two starters – the green beans deep fried in a wheat flour based batter, seasoned with lemon salt and served with tartare sauce and small pies filled with partridge, bacon and chives. The green beans are impressive looking long tubes – quite unusual but very good to eat with the tartare sauce. The delicate looking mini partridge pies are not delicate in flavour – they are sensational!
I am having the Alentejo black pork with french fries, cilantro & garlic farofa and black beans. It does not look very exciting when it arrives and, although the fries and the black beans are good, the farofa just does not heighten the flavour of the pork in the way I had hoped. Rock is having the vegetarian tagine with orange couscous. It does look really interesting when it arrives but as she eats it she feels something is missing! As well as the orange couscous the menu promised Moroccan flavours, toasted almonds, prunes & lemon.
She searches for any sign of prunes or almonds….without success. Apologies follow, the kitchen omitted some key ingredients in error and she is offered a glass of their very finest port by way of apology. As she has already enjoyed a glass of wine, she passes on the port and gives me the chance to enjoy it. It is a beautiful port and makes a decent apology – at least from my perspective, though I may not be the best judge after two bottles of strong amber craft ale and a large glass of quality port.
Great starters, great beer, fabulous port, beautiful decor – it was just a shame that some members of the kitchen were not on their best form!