“ Address: Rua do Castelo 11 / 8300 Silves / Portugal „
===Up The side of a hill===
Silves (Sil-vesh) is a very beautiful and historic town, sometimes called the capital of the Algarve. There have been settlers there since the Stone Age! It has a truly imposing riverfront and is full of amenities for the inhabitants and many tourists who come to soak up a bit of history with the sunshine. I love the place and when I'm working in the area, any time off will see me driving up into the hills to Silves.
Situated under the imposing walls of Moorish Silves castle, you climb the cobbled steps to gain entrance to this sprawling cafe. Trees shelter the outside seating and the cafe has an old but cared for exterior. The venue couldn't be prettier. The castle walls are very impressive, an ancient Cathedral with interesting windows to the left and a fantastic view of Silves spread out below you. Don't miss the fantastic sculpture of a crusader knight, just at the top of the steps, guarding the castle entrance!
===What's to eat?===
The food on offer ranges from small snacks to full on traditional Potuguese dinners. The salads here are the most beautifully presented I have ever seen and amount to masterpieces of visual and culinary art. I am not exaggerating, they have to be seen to be appreciated. I usually have tuna salad for about 7 Euro. The range of tastes and colours is superb and the helpings are very generous, I have often struggled to finish mine. The bread served on the table is lovely crusty local one and this always complements the food.
There is an impressive range of specials and the fish dishes are quite spectacular, always with an eye to detail and presentation and always fresh and tasty. We had a beef stew in here one evening and it was very tender and free of the gristle that sometimes invades Portuguese cuts of meat.
Everything we have tried over the years has been good and only once have we sent anything back. The meal arrived cold and our complaint was dealt with swiftly and courteously. we were even given a free liqueur as an apology.
The average price for a two course meal would come out at about 18-20 Euros, so whilst not the cheapest place to eat out, the variety and quality of the food warrants the little extra I think.
If you go to the back of the restaurant there is a semi open dining room which houses the most tempting cake cabinet on one side and adjoining that is the cooking area with a large traditional brick oven at one end. Here it it is possible to see the care that is being put into your dinner, whatever you are eating. The decor in here is less formal and large baskets of nuts and other local produce reminds me of Harvest Festivals when I was younger.
The menu is international and has a very good mixture with something for everyone. Vegetarians are catered for but sometimes the choice isn't great. Pescatarians will eat well here! The soup (I have tried the tomato and the vegetable) is fresh and full of flavour.
===Abandon diet all ye who enter here!===
The cake cabinet! Oh dear me! Luscious fig tart, apple crumble, fruit crumble, double chocolate cake, carob cake, carrot cake, strawberry meringue cake, tarte tatin, tarte citron. They all sit their on their innocent, pretty little cake salvers and whisper "Go on, forget the diet, you won't get a chance like this again.." Actually they don't whisper, they shout! The cakes on offer are out of this world and what is nicer than to sit in the sun, stretch your legs and have coffee and cake whilst watching the world go by? I am normally one to choose savoury over sweet but life is too short to resist this quality of cakiness! I tell myself I can always go down to the new fitness trail on the riverside to work it off but funnily enough I never do!
They range from about 3 - 6 euros per generous portion and you might be better sharing one! Staff are happy to bring an extra plate and spoon!
===At your convenience===
The loos are spotless and have those clever 'light up as you go in' arrangements if I remember rightly. I don't know how accessible they are to wheelchair users as they are a bit cramped.
Overall I think wheelchair access would be difficult in the restaurant as it is situated on quite a steep hill and you have to go up or down steps to the front door. There might be another way in from the road which I haven't seen.
Parking is available in the town car parks or if you are lucky in the square at the bottom of the Cafe's steps. The tightness of the little cobbled streets and squares can cause a few problems. So you are probably best sticking to the designated car parks which are roomy and well lit. It's no hardship wandering through the town anyway, it is so pretty.
===So Fado, so good!===
The restaurant hosts an evening of Fado (traditional Portuguese Music) most weeks, or you might be beguiled by a jazz evening or local folk music. No extra charge is made for the live entertainment and it really is a great night out. If it's a warm evening you can sit drinking wine or coffee on the roof and just soak up the atmosphere. I have never been rushed from my table but encouraged to "Stay, enjoy!" A timetable of events can usually be found outside the restaurant or at the local tourist information office.
The restaurant reminds me of the Tardis, it doesn't look so big on the outside but inside seems to go on unfolding. The decor changes from room to room and the walls showcase the works of local artists. Although the decor is eclectic there is a feeling of space and light in the main rooms. A piano sits against one wall and the well used visitors books resting on it makes interesting and sometimes charming reading.
I like the fact too, that in good weather you can go up the flower basket laden back steps onto the spacious roof bar and lounge about with the house cats.
The view from the roof is spectacular. Last time I was up there, two large birds of prey soared overhead and into the castle battlements. Next thing I knew the air was full of fleeing doves and then, in a moment I'll never forget, the sky was darkened by dozens and dozens of storks wheeling above me like huge cumbersome kites. I wish I'd had a camera with me that morning.
So, if you just want a breather from your sightseeing excursions and exertions or if you want to sit down to a well prepared meal, the cafe Inglese will be an enjoyable experience.
If you do visit, say "Bom Dias!" to the cats for me please!
Address: Rua do Castelo 11, 8300-144 Silves Portugal Phone+351 28 2442585