It’s been a little while, and I had planned to write this review sooner but, as always, life got in the way. Yet I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this meal so I figured that must mean it’s worth writing a review, even if it’s a month or so late.
So, Aquario. A small restaurant tucked away in what seems to be a slightly dodgy part of Praia da Luz. But like the age-old saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover, so after a few moments of wondering whether or not we had actually come to the right place, we headed in.
Once we were inside, the exterior didn’t matter at all. We entered into a warm and cosy dining area. It was pretty tiny, so if you ever happen to be in Praia da Luz and fancy popping in, booking is 100% essential.
The first thing to note, as always, was the service. After all, we’re not just paying for the food, we’re paying for the experience. We were served by the loveliest of men, attentive but not intrusive and always happy to help, whether we needed some suggestions for wine or anything else.
We were also given some fancy free bits and bobs to start with, which was the most exciting thing to ever happen to me. I love free things, and these complimentary items were the perfect start to the meal. A little hint of good things to come.
Firstly we were presented with a caprese salad and some parma ham, beautifully arranged around a tomato that had been shaped into a rose. While perhaps not the most exciting item, and pretty much impossible to get wrong, it was definitely a lovely little extra to receive.
We were then given some tiny little eggs on crackers and some little shot glasses of sauce, though I wasn’t sure exactly what the sauce was. I can’t describe how incredible the eggs were – they were perfectly cooked and seasoned with the perfect amount of salt. The sauce accompanied the eggs perfectly, but I could not tell you what exactly it tasted like. Nonetheless, we also drank the sauce when we finished the eggs, because it came in little shot glasses and we couldn’t quite fit the crackers in for dipping, so this was the best way forward.
For our actual starter, we opted to share a Honey-Baked Cheese with Nuts. I was intrigued by how the cheese and honey flavour would work together, I couldn’t quite imagine it. When I got to the tasting, I was pretty amazed that the combination was as nice as it was, sweet and salty, which I guess is quite a common things. Still, cheese and honey sounds a little odd to me, but I definitely enjoyed Aquario’s take on the combo.
When it came to mains, I thought it would only be right to choose something from the traditional Portuguese cuisine section. And you know me, I can’t resist a steak, so I chose the Portuguese Steak. I had no idea exactly what to expect but I was incredibly pleased to find that consisted of steak in a tasty, port and white wine vinegar based sauce topped with a bit of parma ham, something the Portuguese seem to love adding to all their beef-based dishes, as a couple of times I found that the burgers and steaks were served with parma ham there. I’m not complaining, parma ham is great.
Aside from the sauce and ham, it was pretty much what you’d expect a steak to be. Not the best steak I’d ever tasted, though definitely nearer the top, but I was glad I opted for the Portuguese steak as the sauce was quite different to anything I’d usually choose to go with steak and it was very tasty.
As a family of beef lovers, it’s no surprise that my aunt chose the Sirloin Steak and my mum and sister decided on the Beef Wellington. Each of the mains we tried were delicious, but I do have to be honest and say that I have had better steaks. The accompanying sauces were pretty special though, and it was more the experience and the rest of the food that made a real difference.
When we all finished our meals, we were offered a small free drink on the house. None of us could quite decided what we wanted, but our waiter insisted and suggested some local port. I can’t really say no to free alcohol, so we each enjoyed a small glass of port. I’ve never really drank much port, but I think after this, I’d be tempted to start. My sister didn’t fancy port, so despite her protests, she was given a little chocolate shot glass which contained some cherry-liqueur.
Overall, Restaurantes Aquário provided us with a fantastic evening and amazing food. If I ever head back to the area, I’d definitely love to pop back in, alas I don’t live in Portugal so I can’t exactly see myself heading back there any time soon. Oh well, the experience will live on in my memories – and now on my blog!