I’m in the coastal town of Sesimbra. The weather is not on my side. It rained heavily on me during my walk along the seafront promenade.
Nevertheless, I am drawn to the town, which seems deserted in the low season, for dinner in the evening. It’s supposed to be a small traditional fish restaurant.
The entrance is on the corner of an old town house. There is not the classic narrow alley with tables in front of the door but an outdoor kitchen. This means a plate to prepare the fish and a wood-fired grill set into the wall.
There are two small dining rooms, one of which has a counter where I can already recognise the sobremesa and the small goat’s cheese starters. There are currently five people in service, estimated from three generations of the family. Presumably three brothers, a daughter or daughter-in-law, the mother and a grandson with what felt like 100kg of loaf. I am allowed to choose my fish, a dourade, directly from the display. Then I decide on the Vinho Verde. That’s it.
Salad and potatoes are included and are prepared by the mother in the tiny neighbouring kitchen.
The obligatory TV, small this time, is showing a game show.
After I was the first and only guest so far, three men with “Bombeiros” fire brigade jackets come in. Over the course of the next half hour, the seats that are shared at the tables fill up.
The fish is simple and unadorned. It doesn’t need any sauces or exotic spices. The smoky flavour, a little salt and olive oil and the perfect dinner is achieved.
I finish with a Cafe Mouse.
I look out from my seat onto the wet street, savour the last sip of my white wine and listen to the singsong of the now all-Portuguese guests.
The heavens have now relented and I return to my mobile home dry, happy and full.
Sesimbra in the low season is always worth a visit.
1st Dec 2023 | REH