Last year, Covid scuppered my plans to visit Lisbon for the first time; this year it led me to Cornwall instead of my usual September haunts of France or Spain and I was delighted to enjoy a fabulous Portuguese meal that I would otherwise have missed!
Cornwall has become a foodie hotspot in recent years and good, even great food, is found all over the county. Cornwall’s popularity has grown even more over the last couple of years due to Covid and people preferring to holiday at home rather than travel abroad. I booked my holiday purposely for after schools went back and thus miss peak season, but September is always popular too and thus I found that booking a table at any restaurant was very difficult indeed. Even weeks in advance.
My hotel’s AA 2 Rosette restaurant closed for the season in May due to problems getting staff. This is a common problem at the moment and the hospitality industry has suffered greatly, both because of Covid and Brexit. However, the hotel did provide excellent bar snacks early evening and also recommended good local restaurants. Together with their list and a google search, I put together a shortlist. Even weeks ago – I don’t remember exactly when – finding a table at a restaurant proved almost impossible. My daughter managed to get a table at Edie’s Kitchen for us on Wednesday and then – wonderfully! – I got a reply to my message from Alvorada, a Portuguese restaurant in the heart of Megavissey near to the harbour. I was eating alone and they could only offer a time of 6pm on Thursday, but I like to eat early so that was no problem for me and I took it, very pleased I’d be able to eat there as it’s said to be one of the best places to eat in the village.
Alvorada make the best of their Portuguese heritage and the abundance of local seafood. Megavissey is one of the few remaining working fishing ports in Cornwall and so the fish you eat there really couldn’t be fresher. I arrived and found I was the only customer at that time but they gave me a lovely table by the window and were fantastically friendly and welcoming. The Portuguese chef/owner came out from his kitchen to say hello and talk; his wife Sue who is front of house was wonderfully friendly, chatting to me a bit from time to time, until a bit later the restaurant started to fill up. This makes such a difference to the solo diner and really enhanced my enjoyment of the evening. The restaurant is fully booked for the rest of the season. Quite a few people came asking for a table; would there be one the next night? But no table was to be had for the rest of this year!
It’s a tiny restaurant and only sits up to 12 people, thus it is intimate and cosy adding to the welcoming ambiance.
I may not have been to Portugal but everything seemed very Portuguese and lovely. The menu was written on blackboards on the wall – lots of fish as one would expect but some meat too. A wine list offered Portuguese wine and I ordered a glass of white to go with my fish. I chose scallops from nearby Fowey (you can even take a small ferry boat from Megavissey to Fowey and back), set on a bed of leeks with some white wine. It was very simple but very delicious.
However, the star of the meal was the gorgeous fish stew. With white fish, prawns, mussels, beans and sweet peppers, it was truly fabulous. It was also a generous portion and I didn’t quite manage to finish it.
I did however find room for dessert. I was very tempted by a warm chocolate cake with figs, but I really couldn’t resist having a Pastel de Nata. I added in a scoop of vanilla ice cream that tasted like clotted cream and so was fabulously indulgent. The custard tart (may one call a Pastel de Nata a custard tart?) was excellent. I do like them but often find them too sweet but this was just right. Sue told me they are made by a Portuguese cook and thus the real thing.
I ordered an espresso to finish and gave in to a temptation to buy a few little Portuguese bowls as gifts for family – and myself!
It was a lovely meal and the evening made all the more pleasurable by the friendliness of the owners. I walked back to the hotel a very happy person!