“ Address: Largo da Ribeira, 7 8500 Alvor „
Aside from the sun and relaxing on the beach, the thing I was most looking forward to on a recent holiday to Alvor, Portugal was the delicious seafood restaurants. After arriving after 10pm on our first night and settling for the plainest, most disappointing room service sandwiches imaginable, we were certainly in need of good food on our first proper night and first venture from our hotel to Alvor itself. In this beautiful seaside fishing town we were spoilt for choice, and our selection came down to the nearest with tables outside and a reasonably priced menu, which happened to be Sereia.
Alvor's seafood restaurants are situated right on the harbour, at the bottom of a steep café and shop-lined street and clustered together on a corner. There's many to choose from, all with outdoor seating and most displaying their offerings in chiller cabinets right outside. The smells are out of this world and our already hungry tummies were driven into overdrive. Two large restaurants on each corner seemed very expensive, presumably because of their location. However the much smaller Sereia was tucked just alongside one of them and price wise seemed more reasonable. They also advertised prices by the meal, rather than by the Kilo weight of the fish, which was appreciated, as we felt a little nervous about ending up with a very costly meal!
We were greeted by two friendly and welcoming waitresses and shown to a table with views of the harbour, something we appreciated as we watched the beautiful sunset over the sea as we ate. As we arrived at around 7pm, there were free tables although these quickly filled up as we waited for our food. The waitress was extremely helpful and friendly, seating us and making sure we were comfortable, chatting with my six year old daughter and recommending dishes then giving us plenty of time to peruse the menu. I decided to have the Sea bass while my Mum chose swordfish and my daughter chose a rather predictable kids chicken nuggets and chips. We also decided on a jug of red Sangria, which we were advised would take ten minutes as it's "made in the moment" and bread with sardine pate.
Our Sangria was indeed ten minutes and arrived along with my daughter's drink of sprite and our bread and pate starter. The Sangria looked delicious and was packed with fruit, but despite our waitress's pride at it being made fresh I personally think it's better when it's sat with the fruit for a while and soaked up the flavours. I'm pretty sure that's the point. The cost was Ten euro, probably the first indication that prices in Portugal had shot up since our last visit. Our bread was crusty and fresh and the pate, although served in prepacked portions was nice enough to take the edge of our hunger.
Next our main course arrived to many ooos and aaaahhhs of appreciation. We'd watched the chef grill the fish outside in the open and then both arrived on silver platters swimming in garlic and herb butter. We also got plates of new potatoes and vegetables (a mix of green beans, carrots and cauli) My sea Bass was huge, and came served with its head, which I hadn't considered when I ordered it. Luckily I'm not easily put off and tucked in. It was absolutely delicious, the fish fell off the bones and the skin was crispy and smoked giving it a very interesting and pleasant texture. My Mum's Swordfish steak was enormous and equally delicious and we did a bit of swapping about with our meals so we got a piece of each. It wasn't as tender as another swordfish we ate later in the weak, but it wasn't tough as it can be prone to being. The potatoes were rich and earthy tasting and the veg was cooked to perfection with a lovely firm crunch. My daughter's meal was as under whelming as any kids meal in any country and was generic frozen nuggets, however the fries were lovely and a very generous portion. Once she saw our fish though, the nuggets were abandoned and she declared the Sea Bass the most delicious thing she'd ever eaten. Luckily the portion sizes were big enough to give her a piece of each fish without leaving us adults hungry.
We decided against a pudding, as we were now pretty full. Instead we relaxed with the rest of our Sangria and soaked up the atmosphere of the harbour as it became busier. It was stunning sitting outside with the delicious smells floating around from the various restaurants and the twinkling lights and lamps providing a cosy and magical ambience. We sat for a good half an hour after our meal watching the goings on and enjoying an old man playing the concertina just on the harbour. We never once felt we should be moving on and the waitress who served us recommended a local water park to my daughter, told her the name of the restaurant meant mermaid in Portugeuse and chatted with us easily.
The bill arrived when asked for and we were a little surprised at the cost for just two adults and one child. Altogether it came to Fifty One Euro, which is just shy of £50. Clearly prices have risen in this area and along with the poor exchange rate it isn't cheap to eat out as it once was. However we did thoroughly enjoy our meal, the surroundings and couldn't fault either the food or the service at all. If I have one regret it's that I didn't get to go back and sample a monkfish Kebab, which I saw being served to another customer and looked divine. I almost wished I'd ordered this instead!
If you're visiting Alvor and looking for a delicious fish restaurant on the harbour I'd recommend Sereia. It risks being overlooked for the two larger and very popular restaurants either side of it but it's homely, intimate and welcoming atmosphere is wonderful and the food and service almost perfect. Sitting outside it is a perfect vantage point for watching both the harbour and other people on this busy street and the regular appearance of a stray dog being chased down the street provides some entertainment. The only real criticism I have was of the Sangria, although we still managed to polish it off easily...hic! I'll definitely return to this restaurant when I hopefully visit this area next year...and this time there's a Monkfish Kebab with my name on it.
NB: The photo above looks like it was taken out of season. There was more seating out the front and partitions between the neighbouring restaurant when we visited plus twinkly lamps.