Restaurant reviews

Eating out in Evora: Excellent food and service at Fialho restaurant

During our recent stay in Evora we were lucky enough to be invited to the Fialho restaurant for dinner. Our contact at the Portuguese Tourist Office in London told us that it was one of the best in Evora and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

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The restaurant is tucked away up a side street, a five to ten minute walk from the main square – the cobbled streets of Evora mean slow progress, especially if you’ve put smart shoes on for the occasion! The building is modest from the outside but once over the threshold you find yourself in a surprisingly spacious restaurant decorated in traditional Portuguese style with smartly dressed waiters bustling around. The restaurant was almost full when we arrived at 8 o’clock with diners in the main being Portuguese although there were a couple of other tables with European tourists. Our waiter spoke excellent English and we also heard him speaking fluent French to another couple.

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Fialho is a family-run business and we were fortunate enough to meet the owner and his son, the third generation to work there since the restaurant opened in 1945.

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Following the usual Portuguese custom, our table was already set with a selection of appetisers: marinated mushrooms, an octopus dish, a plate of dry-cured ham and a soft cheese. There was no pressure to keep any of these appetisers but we couldn’t resist the ham and were glad we did so. It was moist and flavoursome and demonstrated exactly why southern Iberia is so famous for its ham from the black pigs who feast on acorns.

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After the generous plate of ham we realised that we would not have room for a starter each so shared some gambas al ajillo, succulent king prawns cooked with garlic, red chillies and olive oil. This being a favourite of ours we had already ordered it twice in Lisbon prior to coming to Evora but have to say that Fialho’s took the gold medal in the gambas contest! Luckily we had left plenty of crusty bread to mop up the unctuous juices.

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For mains we were spoiled for choice. The menu had a large selection of fish and meat and we had already seen our neighbour demolish a rather tasty-looking sole which tempted us. Then again the partridge or the hare rice sounded interesting. In the end my husband opted for the roast kid while I decided to have the lamb chops, safe in the knowledge that the Alentejo region prides itself on its lamb.

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The kid had been slow roasted and was melt-in-the-mouth tender, served with a beautifully dressed green salad and baby potatoes which had obviously been added to the casserole and were imbued with the delicious juices from the kid. My lamb chops were cooked to perfection and served with crispy fries and creamed spinach. They were not the neat cutlets which we are used to in the U.K. but being a true carnivore I was undaunted by the irregularity of the meat. They tasted delicious and armed with an excellent sharp knife (something which is not always provided in restaurants) I was equal to the task!

Sadly we had no room for dessert; indeed we were so full that we couldn’t even face looking at the menu in the interests of research!

We enjoyed a bottle of the house white with our meal, the local Alento Branco, a blend of three indigenous grape varieties, which has won various awards.

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All in all we had a great evening at Fialho and wished we had longer in Evora to make a return visit and sample some more of the great cooking.

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