I had a jaw dropping steak experience last night.
An old building in a nearby market town had been gutted and re built into a two story restaurant. The interior is very stylish and modern and going from the reports of some close to opening day diners it was good and a little bit different to the norm.
One of the upsides of living in rural Portugal is that the local restaurants serve very good meat and potatoes (don’t forget the boiled rice) dishes in huge quantities and at a very reasonable price.
My usual lunch for instance consists of bread/olives, wine, soup, main course, fruit and coffee all for 8 Euros.
But last night we decided to try the new place.
Personally I am not a follower or trip advisor and don’t check out new places on the internet before trying them. Partly because I know there is an active cottage industry in rigging ratings. I just like to try a place and decide for myself. Although I had heard the food was broadly good I also heard about people sending food back to the kitchen.
We arrived around 8.30pm and were the only people there another couple arrived 20 minutes lasted and that was it just the 4 of us for the Thursday night.
The meal got off to a good start with a complimentary glass of rose and I ordered from the menu which had all the usual Portuguese favorites.
Which proved that it was the restaurant that was little bit different to the norm not the food offering….
I decided to order the veal steak which came with a mixture of basmati rice and fried mushrooms . Delivered with the young waitresses thumb in the bowl of food.
I cut into my steak with the steak knife and found it to be tough so I tried to cut a smaller slice from another part of the steak and it took a lot of chewing.
Coincidentally I had eaten a normal steak in a different restaurant two days earlier so I had something to compare with. This steak was very tough. When the waitress came over and asked if everything was good I told her that the steak was tough. She took it away and brought it back a little later.
It had been battered flat in the kitchen and put back on the plate. I almost laughed out loud as I had not ever experienced a solution to a tough/cooked steak like this. The female chef then came out the kitchen and said is that better. It truly was a jaw dropping experience but not of the good kind.
I share this drawn out experience with you because it demonstrates perfectly to me how hard it is to bring any Portuguese business into the modern era. In this case modern restaurant and old school chef.
Charging fashionable, modern, restaurant prices which will quickly loose custom and go bust because the quality and value is not being delivered.
Mainly I believe because the owners of the business don’t know what is modern or quality due to a lack of broader experience.
The people who would normally lead in fashion and new ideas (the young) simply do not have the expendable income to go out to restaurants unless on a family occasion where someone else is paying. This lack of leadership from the young is not limited to restaurants start-up businesses of all kinds cannot get off the ground because the young are trapped in 1960,s mentality and the banks want to lend money to “responsible people “ in their 40’s and 50’s.
Conversely they will load the young up with expensive loans to buy cars, white goods and furniture.!
This lack of a vibrant youth culture and investment is probably holding Portugal in recession longer than the government efforts.
I do hope that when the hundreds of thousands of young Portuguese people who are working around the world eventually come home they utilize their experience to kick start Portugal’s economy with radical ideas and new types of business. Otherwise we will become like a Greak island lost in another era.