Frango da Cidade, Olhão, Algarve, Portugal
The Menu 15€ per head (yes, really)
Cooking 6/10 | Service 5/5 | Flavour 4/5
Chicken City. Doesn’t sound like a typical Tom Eats! place, does it? And to be frank, it’s nothing to look at either. We are in one of the Algarve’s less obviously touristy towns, staying with good friends M & I who are wintering in the sun. They discovered this place because of the reputation of its takeaway peri peri chicken, exactly what you’d expect from the name and outlook. The menu on a board on the wall offers sundry different meats and sausages, with a few seafood options at the bottom. Perhaps the clue to today’s delights is the note right at the foot which says that traditional Algarve dishes can be provided by prior order.
Prices on the board seem pretty reasonable. The most expensive plate is a whole roast chicken at 11€. Quite how M & I found out about The Menu is unclear. That, however, was our quest. As this was a designated Tom Eats! repast, the Milky Bars were certainly going to be on us.*
Owner João came to take our order. Very simple. Menu for 4, por favor. The only difficult choice was red wine, white wine or beer. That sorted, we sat to wait. Not for long. A bottle of water and a litre of very quaffable fruity red appeared in a trice and not long after that, some food. Then more food. Then more food. Then … OK, you get the drift.
First up, a brace of red snapper per person, with some baked sweet potato. A stew of chicken, chorizo and peas. A typical Algarve side of rice with tomato. If it had stopped there, no one could have accused the management of stinginess. Clams steamed with enough garlic to fend off all the vampires in southern Portugal; a massive platter of grilled prawns - about 6 or 7 per person; chicken in a cream sauce. The night’s star dish, squid and potatoes, featured a cephalopod of outstanding tenderness. In case we were hungry there was also a salad and a plate of chips.
Did I mention the wine? The jug was refilled once, and seemed to be bottomless. With admirable self restraint, we asked for only a half litre for the last top up.
Unfortunately I have to impart some sad news here. It would appear that my estimable friend M, artist extraordinary, has attracted a tapeworm during his winter sojourn. At least that’s the only explanation I can fathom for the finale. As three of the company slumped replete and groaning, M methodically and efficiently cleared all the remaining plates bar, possibly a prawn head and a small clam shell or two. His trencherman skills are on a par with his artistic skills which, let me tell you, are of the highest.
I nearly forgot. There was pudding. Some melon, a wee sliver of OK chocolate cake and a larger slice of an excellent orange cake. Plus coffee for them that wanted it.
João was quietly solicitous throughout, concerned that we were enjoying the food, that we had enough wine and enough to eat. Yes, to all three questions, but nothing could prepare me for the shock to come in the shape of the bill. 60€ - no, not each, for ALL OF US. And that was including the wine. Still dazed, I write this the following morning, with a quiet resolution never to eat again. Extraordinary. Memorable. Choose your own adjective. For once I’m a bit short for words.
If you're planning a special occasion this would be worth it even including the flights to Faro, and the taxi fare to here.
*A very old reference. If you don’t get it, ask your Granny or click here.
How could you? We’ll never get a table again now you’ve told the world! It’s happened before – with Pilgrim’s in Rosscarbery.
P.S. You forgot the Aguar Ardente we were dashed at the end of the meal.
Ach! Had it down as Yugoslavia from twitterings, Tom!