We stopped by Tasca da Quinta immediately following our visit to the Douro Museum (read more about that visit here). We arrived about two minutes after they opened, and we were super lucky we did. The restaurant is really small, and was set up for two large groups (8 people each) and two smaller groups (5 people each) and then one table for two. All tables but the one for two had “reserved” signs on them. We were a bit crestfallen at the idea of not being able to get in, but the dining gods were shining kindly on us. We were in luck! The table for two was open and was ours for the taking.
We were instantly smitten with this place. The kitchen is open to viewing and is the size of a normal home kitchen. There’s a lovely cabinet full of wine on the side of the room and nothing felt pretentious, twee or anything other than welcoming and homey. The server brought us the menu which was a tiny little notebook with the options handwritten in both Portuguese and English. There were several fish and veggie options amongst several more pork options. We quickly settled on our choices – mushroom and bean stew for Zac and shredded cod with eggs and shredded potatoes for me.
While we waited, the server brought over the lightest cornbread slices served with tapenade. We quickly gobbled this up and were again so thankful we were able to get into this quaint spot. We became even more grateful as we saw group after group of people without reservations being turned away. Oh, we were so lucky!
As we sat and received our meals, the group tables filled up and the environment became really lively. We watched as the server and one guest from each table visited the wine cabinet to choose a suitable wine for their tastes. While this sounds pretentious, it absolutely was not. It was as if they each were visiting a friend who was providing them with some options for what they might like to drink. The discussion felt very casual and not at all “winey”. Each and every person walked away having selected something that ultimately brought many smiles to the guests at their table.
As for the food…I cannot begin to tell you how much we enjoyed this meal. I forgot to mention that when we ordered the server suggested we add a small appetizer to our meal and he was so right to do so. We started with a small toast of roasted peppers topped with tiny mackerel. As we bit in to the wee toast, I knew this was going to be a great meal. The other dishes were served in beautiful bowls and were really good sized portions. The one surprise was Zac’s stew had some ham on top (we should have known) so if you are a vegetarian you should double check about the ingredients (I suspect the broth was meaty too). I absolutely adored my dish – I normally dislike dishes that are a single texture but found the flavors to be complex enough that I was ok with the texture. There was no one flavor that overpowered another and it was one of the most interesting dishes I have had in a long while.
When we left, we jokingly said we will be back tomorrow. Sadly, it’s Monday and they are closed. They only open for dinner on Tuesday which is when we will be leaving this beautiful place and heading to the coast. It’s too bad, I would have loved to try some of their other dishes. Please, please, please go to Tasca da Quinta when you are in the Douro Valley. Just make sure you call ahead for a booking.