Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Senhor Vinho

Portugal, Part I: Established in 1975 (a year before I was born!), this remarkable restaurant is reputedly one of Lisbon's best spots to enjoy "fado" performances _ a Portuguese musical heritage marked by mournful music and lovelorn lyrics.

Intermittently during dinner _ which stretches for hours _ female singers stand amid the tables to belt out evocative ballads on life and loss, accompanied only by guitarists. Everyone remains hushed, mesmerized by the powerful voices.

Among the artists we witnessed this evening was Filipa Cardoso, a winner of Lisbon's "Fado's Great Night" competition. Taking photographs of performances is permitted but not encouraged, since the lights are dimmed and the singers might get distracted by cameras.

Traditional Portuguese favorites are the menu's cornerstone. Humble fare, but prices are exorbitant by Lisbon's standards.

A rather hearty amuse bouche of octopus salad with goat cheese.

Bacalhau (salted codfish). An acquired taste for those of us who prefer our cod lightly cooked to retain its natural sweetness. Not particularly moist either.

Dishing out the rice stew with monkfish & prawns.

Watery, but steaming hot and wholesome. Seemed like something that might be served at regular Portuguese homes. Comfort food, in its own way.

All in all, a pleasant place, but a bit far off from the city center. Still, we had to make reservations several months in advance, since the place gets packed even on a weeknight. Encouragingly, the customers seem overwhelmingly local (they could sing along to several of the choruses!).

Senhor Vinho,


  1. Love Fado. My favourite Fadistas are Amelia Rodriguez and Misia, though I can only manage a smattering of Portuguese. Hahaha... I'll keep this place in mind if I am planning a trip to Lisbon.

  2. Hmm, this one wonders if you have any ethnic Portuguese roots in your blood, given our hometown's old Portuguese Square and Serani community... :)

  3. Ermmm... How "old" is this post ah? *curious*

  4. Speaking of Portugese I made Portugese baked rice the other day. :D

  5. android: oooh, thanks, i just looked up rodrigues and misia on youtube and watched their performances. love the purity and passion in their voices. i doubt i'll ever visit lisbon again (it's beautiful and definitely worth experiencing, but once in a lifetime is enough), so i do hope that someday, a fado singer will hold a performance in kl :D
    lfb: my lineage seems to be chinese through-and-through, direct and unbroken from hainan island and shaanxi! this made me realize though that the last time i remember making any serani friends or acquaintances was waaaaay in school. it's been too long, i think...
    j: heheh, less than six months! anyways, no fear, i think this place will survive for a looooooong time :D
    michelle: i've always wondered if that's more of a macau fusion creation! but it seems quite yummy and addictive when done right =)

  6. ahhh! I was scrolling down frantically for place in KL:p anyway, haven't been to Lisbon. since u are not the expert, must a go-eat list fm you la;)

  7. ciki: i think you'd enjoy lisbon! and many of the streets are on steep slopes, which might be ideal for someone who's fit and athletic like you! :D

  8. What??? Booked a few months in advance?? food didnt exactly mind -blowing right?

  9. tng: ya, space is kinda limited here! food wasn't the highlight at all, but the performances by the singers were memorable indeed :D

  10. ok i saw something i like here. the copper pots! so classic..

  11. eiling: wow, u're observant! i barely noticed that, hehe :D