“ Address: 2625 Póvoa De Santa Iria / Lisbon „
~Jose the Postman~
Visiting my colleagues in the Lisbon office is always a treat. Not only are they a super bunch of lovely people but they can be guaranteed to take me to some excellent restaurants. My visit back in December 2012 was a brief one - in on Thursday, out on Friday - but they still managed to take me to two superb restaurants. Lunch on Thursday was at one of their regular spots, a restaurant and cervejaria (beer place) called 'O Ze Carteiro'. Our office is in the Santa Iria district in the north of Lisbon and this place was about 10 minutes drive from there.
I believe there is more than one place going by this name since Tripadvisor lists the same restaurant name with a different address. The place I am reviewing is at Morgado S. Antonio Bolonha Lt.16 LjB. The name - O Ze Carteiro - actually means Jose the Postman. The plates are decorated with a cartoon of a postbox holding a beer in one hand and a letter in the other. I'm afraid I thought it was a piece of toast.
We arrived in two cars and found just one parking space so the other colleagues double parked, leaving word that they would be in the restaurant and would move when needed. In the UK if you tried something like that you'd probably instigate a major episode of road rage but it's considered entirely normal in Portugal. It was raining heavily; so heavily that a Sporting Lisbon football match that evening was cancelled because Portuguese footballers don't like to run around in the rain. We ran inside, left our umbrellas at the door and waited for our table.
The restaurant is a big one and has recently more than doubled in size by taking over the premises next door. We were in the newer part of the restaurant and it was light, bright and a little bit like a cafeteria to look at. Despite the expansion in size, the place was soon completely full and we were placed next to a private dining area where a company were having their Christmas lunch. My colleagues commented that it was a shame they'd doubled the size of the restaurant without doubling the size of the kitchen or the number of staff and it soon became apparent that service was going to be very slow. It seems this was particularly bad on this occasion because of the large group taking up a lot of the staff time. I guess every time you deliver a plate, someone's going to demand another drink or a clean fork and they're hard to get away from.
We ordered Coke Zeros for everyone and eventually got the menus. Realistically there wasn't really a need to have a menu as the most effective way to choose was to watch what was being taken to the tables around us and then pick something that looked good. On this occasion what looked good was a large brochette of octopus and shrimp at Euro12.50 a plate. The colleagues know I love octopus and seem to revel in having a foreign visitor who doesn't wrinkle her nose and say "Yuck" when they mention this beast. They know the portion sizes well and recommended we order just three portions for the four of us and I was happy to go along with that. Although they are all slender little ladies, I know that where seafood is concerned, they can eat like men twice their size so if they said three would be enough, I knew I wasn't going to starve.
The drinks arrived and we were faced with the selection of nibbles on the table. It's common practice in Portuguese restaurants to lay out bread, cheese, butter and sometimes quite complicated things to tempt you. Be aware that you will most likely get charged for these. Perhaps we could have resisted if the food hadn't been served so slowly and by the time it arrived we'd polished off three bread rolls and a small round cheese. The bread was inexpensive at 45 c a piece but the cheese was an additional 3 euros.
We must have waited more than half an hour for our food to arrive and when it did arrive it wasn't as hot as it probably should have been which was a shame. If it had been hotter the food would have been close to perfect. The quantity - as had been predicted - was phenomenal. Each of the three plates contained a long skewer loaded with chunks of octopus, large prawns with their shells peeled off but their tales still in place, and big pieces of onion. On the side was a pile of spinach, a mass of small potatoes in their skins and a pile of salad. Aside from the spinach which was cold and unpleasant, everything was delicious. The octopus was firm and slightly chewy, the prawns were juicy and lightly seasoned and the salad had slices of beef tomato which were extremely tasty. One of our colleagues is intolerant to onions and garlic and I believe the restaurant had made up one of the skewers without the onion which was good of them, although they then forgot and put onion on the salad.
We skipped pudding because the afternoon was half gone and we really needed to be getting back to the office although two of us had a coffee. I'd been up since 6 am so I needed a little kick and I knew that no Portuguese coffee is more than two mouthfuls and wouldn't take long to drink. I picked up the bill which was just a few cents over Euro50 for the four of us which I thought was a great result. The dish we'd chosen was one of the most expensive on the menu but I'd still say it was excellent value for money.
~No website - I guess you have to send a letter~
Sadly the restaurant doesn't seem to have a website even though they give a web address on the receipt. This means I can't be sure about the opening hours and days but since booking is advisable, I'd suggest to call and check - or better still ask someone who speaks Portuguese to give them a call. I am confident that the slow service we received was not typical and knowing that the local team go here at least twice a month reassures me that it's normally much quicker.
Restaurante Cervejaria - o Zé Carteiro, Lda.
Lugar do Morgado Santo António Bolonha, Loja 16, Loja B
Póvoa de Santa Iria
2625-248 PÓVOA DE SANTA IRIA
Tel 219 567 619