Let them eat cake ? One week in Funchal, Portugal

portuguese
portugal
madeira

(EMLYN WILLIAMS) #1

Hello everyone

One week in Madeira coming up in one week’s time.
Staying in Funchal but walking most days and will have hire car so all places accessible and all things possible.
Not looking for any fancy places just great fresh seafood or whatever is good locally. Fresh squid a particular favourite of mine so anywhere especially great for that ? Apologies for my ignorance if that is totally out of the question.
Don’t speak any Portuguese regrettably so somewhere that is that unlikely combination of locals favourite but not averse to sweaty post walk English folk especially welcome.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give.


#2

Not helping much, never visited Madeira. Wish you a great trip and looking forward to see your report here. :yum:

When an European destination has not much information or review, the Michelin guide can be useful as reference.

Must eat dish: the soup Asorda and sopa de tomate e cebola.


(EMLYN WILLIAMS) #3

very helpful reply. will try and tempt my friend to at least one of these and report back !


(EMLYN WILLIAMS) #4

Okay, so here is my report

A mixed bag it has to be said.

Cant remember the order we ate in so, this is determined by the order of my receipts and cards I picked up. Certainly not in order of preference either !

  1. Restaurante dos Combatentes

Ironically the most Portuguese sounding place was clearly a fave with British pensioners. As a British none pensioner this was quite off putting. There are only so many lambswool v necks you can see without recoiling in horror. Lovely couples were all chatting about how this was the place to eat in madeira ( boiled potatoes, hooray ! ) and comparing pudding notes. So far, so depressing. The food, though was actually fine. I ordered grilled squid and my mate grilled chicken. Both were fine and whilst the beer was not local ( Super Bock from the mainland ) it was an overall okay experience. 6/10

  1. Casal da Penha

From the Michelin guide. Probably best food and second best experience. We ate well here. Sat outside on small terrace but perhaps should have ventured in as dining room looked lovely and plenty of smokers outside. Friendly service. I had squid to start - at 13 euro not cheap but a lovely dish full of tasty goodness - even tempted my mate to try it and he ( not adventurous ) approved.

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For main it was Filet Mignon for me. Apparently the best steak in Madeira ( doubtful ). It was pretty good and lots of it. Noce sides of sauteed potatoes. Compadre had very simple grilled salmon dish which was just lovely. We shared a cheesecake which was passion fruit ( lots of passion fruit in evidence in M ) and light as a feather which you will either think very good or very bad. We thought it good. Only complaint was my mate’s half bottle of red did not hit the spot. My portuguese IPA, by contrast, accompanied that squid beautifully. Nothing innovative here just good honest cooking. Recommended. 7/10.

  1. Hamburgueria Mercado

Does what it says on the tin simply and effectively and in a nice bright space. After nearly killing ourselves getting lost in the mountains, it was dirty burger time. These were good and we ordered two different versions and shared.
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There was noticeable difference between the two versions, the patties were tasty and the sides ( fries and Mais batatas - fried maize blocks - soaked up all that dirty mayo beautifully. Puds were so so - peanut butter ice cream should be richer than this and was super cold so took a while for flavour to hit ( or I just ate it too quick because I am greedy ). They have a burger challenge thing which you get free if you can eat it all in 30 minutes. Young German lad on table next to us ordered it. You have never seen so much bread and meat in your life. Hilarious. even he was shaking his head and laughing. We enjoyed this place but you will hate it if you dislike burgers or that kind of ‘vibe’. So a 7 or a 3 depending on your preference.

  1. Taberna Madeira

Modern small plates place found at random. Nice modern room. Odd mixed experience. Super helpful in finding us a table. Then left us for 25 minutes with neither food nor drink. Bizarre. Food when it arrived was pretty good but we left feeling hungry. Cod fish cakes were lovely. Squid was a bit meh.
Not memorable and only been back 10 days. 6/10 for food, 4 for the service. A shame.

  1. La Ao Fundo

The one we got from Tripadvisor top 5. Hmmm. A ‘proper’ restaurant this. Outside tables on a nice street. Bread rolls ( tiny ) as opposed to the local heavy bread with garlic you get (and prefer ) elsewhere. Starter of prawns very well executed but measly portion. They know it too as they offer you another bread roll ‘for the sauce’ ( which is like chilli oil and nice but not a sauce ).Tuna for main very good indeed. Shared cheesecake for pud ( passion fruit) basically a bland cheesecake with passion fruit ‘coulis’ on top that tastes like thickened fruit juice. No thank you. Feel like a tourist here and that is not a good feeling. 5/10 ( and that is bolstered by the tuna )

  1. Taberninha ze vitoria

If you go to M you must go here. Was the food the best ? Some but not all. But the owner and the service just made it. New place. open a month. Husband front of house and wife in kitchen. Over stretched and food running late but totally up front about it before we ordered. Brought us free drink as pre apology. Menu and pricing aimed at portuguese and tourists alike. Not Madeiran but portuguese specialities from different regions. My mate had course of the week - essentially a quail egg and sausage frittata.

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Serious food envy on my part. Main course was a tuna/ veg stew which was fine but lacked oomph. Pudding was passion fruit parfait and TO DIE FOR. After that the owner told us how he and his wife met in the army, showed us how to mix a great Ponche ( lime juice sugar and rum mashed bashed and happily downed )

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and was generally a great host who treated us like we wouldn’t be flying out in three days time, probably never to return. This place deserves your custom ! 8.5/10.

  1. Bolo da Caco

Remember I mentioned the heavy bread and garlic butter ? This is a food cart just by the main market. Seems to be open all hours. Always people queing up. We ordered one each for lunch one day. Mistake. wayyyyyy too much - go and get one to share or face the 'too stuffed on bread and garlic butter 'consequences.

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So that’s it. Funchal is a quiet place and you have to search for places that do not seek to ‘entice’ you in to eat, but none of these places did that.

Hope this of some future help or interest.

E