On Sunday night, after our return from our day trip to the northern 'Geraz do Minho' region, we decided to play it safe and try a restaurant in downtown Lamego. After a pleasant stroll to the bottom of the 686 steps, we turned to the right off the treed esplanade onto a parallel street. It was here that we had earlier spotted a Chinese restaurant and had decided to give it a try on this night.
Once again, at 7:30 PM we were too early, having the place largely to ourselves. However, a very friendly young Chinese girl showed us to our table. She could only speak Chinese and Portugese but the restaurant had a very good English menu as well as their usual one.
Favorite Dish: We started with the obligatory beer and wine to enjoy with our starter of Roasted Almonds (E1.75). For main courses, Sue ordered Prawns with Mushrooms (E5) while I went for my old standby of Curried Chicken (E3.75), both accompanied by steamed rice. We had barely finished our almonds when the main dishes arrived, steaming hot! With a half bottle of wine each (E3 apiece), we both devoured our delicious dishes. By the time we left, an hour after our arrival, the place was starting to fill up. If you want an inexpensive and tasty meal, give this place a try! The total cost including a tip was E21 (US$26).
When arriving at the Hotel do Parque, you must drive down a long tree-lined street through the forest of the park, before arriving at its reception and adjoining bar area, located directly across the plaza from the Shrine. Outside the bar, we very much enjoyed seeing the stump of an 800-year old Chestnut tree that is now adorned by other plants growing from its remains!
Upon returning to Lamego after our Sunday driving excursion, the whole park was alive with people, cars and tourist busses - after all, it was a Sunday in Portugal and next door to a Shrine. The street was lined with parked cars but, we were relieved to see one remaining hole for our car exactly in front of the bar - 'for hotel guests only'!
Favorite Dish: We ventured into this bar on more than one occasion, usually to cool down with a Super Bock beer or a cold vinho verde after a hot walk up the 686 steps from town! They also served great 'tosta mista' or toasted cheese sandwiches (as well as a few other selections)! It was an interesting spot, with its standup bar and a few simple tables scattered around the room. Its large windows allowed great viewing of the activities going on at the Shrine. In fact, many of the Portugese pilgrims (and some of the bus drivers) ventured in for a quick beer or two, or sometimes families with small children came in as well to sit at the tables for a quick something. The weather was a bit hot and humid, so very often the patrons were a little red-faced from all their exertions and needed a little something to cool themselves down!
The hotel restaurant was located in a large and bright room on the ground floor, with first class service by white coated waiters. As their literature says, "Famous for its appetizing and genuine gastronomy, the restaurant is respected for its authentic flavours and traditional food, like the smoked ham and sausages, the roasted 'cabrito' (kid goat) and trout stuffed with ham and sweets according to the monastery nun's recipes. The Douro wines - in which the Port deserves a special mention - complete the menu".
Favorite Dish: As usual, we were a bit early for dinner on our first (Saturday) night in the hotel, arriving at 7:30 PM. We were the only customers for about the first hour, until a group of 16 Portugese arrived. For starters, I decided to have their carrot soup, which was OK. Because of Sue's not so pleasant eating experience the previous night in Guarda, we decided to play it safe and we both ordered their Grilled Salmon steaks. These came with boiled potatoes and a side salad of lettuce, tomato slice, onion and shredded carrots. I said to Sue, "after all, how far wrong can you go with Salmon?" WRONG - I don't know what traditional recipe they were using, but the salmon was extremely dry and tough, like it had been overcooked by a long way! We were barely able to finish it, and we both normally adore Salmon. The total cost came to about E30 (US$36) including our drinks.