It is remarkable how locals who live abroad—such as my cousins who study abroad—return home on their breaks only to compare the similar foods in both countries. While the logic of these comparisons eludes me, the one guarantee is that I'll get a good meal out of the deal. On this particular Saturday, we found ourselves past the Hukuru Misky; to the left of the Presidential Residence; at the renowned flame grill establishment in town: Barcelos.
Before going upstairs for a table, we browsed the menu above the takeaway counters. Upstairs we were welcomed by our waiter to a spacious dining area. As we took seats across the glowing Barcelos logo, the waiter set us up with a unique yet definitely family menu of chicken-based mains, sides and appetizers along with a short yet appealing list of Portuguese specialties. Since it is a cuisine that is not part of the normalcy in the capital, it was definitely joining our order for lunch.
Thus, an order was placed by the younger of my cousins for two Garlic Rolls, which got a bump with the waiter's recommendation to Cheesy Garlic Rolls; one Corn on the Cob; one Quarter-Chicken with Garlic Rice; and two Espetadas: one chicken and one beef. While limited in choice, the dessert corner of the menu was, if nothing, definitely diverse. We nudged towards two Lava Cakes and a Kanamadhu (sea almond) Cake; a local favorite.
After ordering, the conversation quickly turned to the how the upper floor contrast to the deceptive front of a fast food joint downstairs when our waiter brought in a small rack of Barcelos Original spicy sauces. The odd choice of wall paintings has (somehow) managed to complement the mood of the establishment with the soft lighting for the floor. Even though so few tables remained vacant at this particular lunch hour, we did not feel crowded at our table.
We were discussing how clean the table was when our drinks arrived. A lush green Mojito for our resident green thumb, an Oreo Milkshake for the sweet tooth and a humble in-house Vanilla Soda for yours truly. Before I tasted the drink before me, I observed the faces across from me as they evaluated their drinks: smiles and surprises, and mine was no different.
The scent of garlic and freshly made maize reached us before the generous portions of Cheesy Garlic Rolls and the Corn on the Cob made it to our table. There is nothing quite like a tasty pastry that reaches you fresh and full of aroma, am I right?
New experiences, especially in the world of food and travel are something we cherish and remain pasted in to album of our memories. What followed our starters is one of my favorite experiences at a dinning establishment so far. Our collective excitement on our faces over the food doubled when we saw the arrival of the Espetadas in all of their suspended glory.
The meats were cooked to a tender brown and the peppers were crisp enough to compliment any level of spice we chose to indulge in. While the Quarter Chicken portion across the table was definitely appetizing, it is no food adventure like a suspended Espetada.
As we were finishing the main course, our waiter was promptly replacing the finished plates with desserts with incredibly friendly and efficient service from the staff.
Many a time, I have complained on the subject of dessert for a lack of effort put in to that very important section of the menu. On this particular occasion, at least the Lava Cake served with Ice Cream in front of me, is the best I have had so far. I took a bit piece off the Kanamadhu Cake as well; definitely on point!
While it's definitely a family environment, Barcelos has by no means gone easy in creating an exceptional dining experience.
Approx. for two (with drinks): $ 37.50
((Star rating- 3.5/5))