Advantages Fantastic imaginative menu
Disadvantages You may well struggle to choose
Typical veggie restaurants do still tend towards the macramé and sandals ‘vibe’ - wholesome in their earnestness with a tendency to serve food in the grey-brown area of the colour spectrum. Essencia is very different – a lot more ‘Elle Deco’ and a lot less ‘Spare Rib’ in it’s appearance. The place looks like it should be really expensive and very trendy – not like it’s a haven for the tiny minority of Portugal’s population that eschew the local delights of chorizo and salt cod in favour of face-free food. I suspect that back in the days of the Portuguese Inquisition, not eating steak would probably have got you burned at the stake. The Portuguese love meat and I’ve been subjected to far too many evenings of so-called Brazilian Barbeque (meat on a skewer followed by more and more meat on skewers) so when my lovely colleague Caroline told me she’d found somewhere really special for dinner I was understandably excited.
The menus were delivered along with a set of small dishes containing pineapple chutney, a garlic-herb-tomato blend and a hard herb butter. Two slices of different home made breads came with these. The pineapple chutney was outstanding, intensely fruity and juicy and really rather special. These bits and bobs for nibbling come with a rather reasonable €2 per person cover charge. I’ve been ripped off too often by the stuff that Portuguese restaurants sneak onto the table in the hope of exploiting diner hunger and I wasn’t offended by this charge.
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