December 13, 2004
As to what the restaurant serves (if you can’t translate "Frango"), the game is given away as you press your nose up against the steamed-up window to see the rows of chickens turning on spits over the fire in front of a counter jam-packed with Porto folk. You can either eat down here or make your way upstairs (there are actually two more floors to this Porto institution, and if you come after 8pm, it’ll be full, so you may have to queue for a little while).
Eat your heart out, KFC - for €6.50, you can have a whole spit-roasted chicken plus scrumptious homemade chips (tasting of real potato) and various salads or spicy rice. The standard portions are really meant for two, but many a hearty diner seemed to be giving it his best shot, so there’s no need to be shy. For the more dainty eater, there are half portions (at almost exactly half the price) of chicken or other dishes such as squid (battered rings, which are somewhat less good and more batter than fish), octopus or a Porto speciality, tripe; alternatively, you can simply order chicken legs/wings/breast – whatever you fancy. (For my money, half-chicken and half-something else to share between two people is a good experimental call.)
A special mention goes to the delicious hard brown bread (for which you will be charged by the piece in most restaurants, so don’t nibble speculatively) and for the fiery chili sauce. Decent Portuguese wines come by the bottle, half-bottle, carafe, or glass. The waiters are cheery types of limited but loud and enthusiastic English. Service is pretty brisk (it’s only one step from being a fast-good joint), so don’t expect a leisurely dinner or to linger all evening, as the next diner will be watching out for your table and expecting you to move on quite promptly.
From journal Tawny or ruby? More than just port in Porto