Text José Silva | Translation Bruno Ferreira
It’s one of Porto’s city classic restaurants and recently celebrated twenty five years of activity. Located on the top part of the city, Camapnhã’s civil parish, not far from the railway station that goes by the same name. Still belonging to the family, led by Mr. Manuel whose diminutive gave name to this house of great food, well-known in the city but also a bit around the country, gathering devoted clients and friends. In fact, a lot of those friends – well-known public figures – are registered in photos, which fill the huge entrance wall – musicians, reporters, football players and politicians.
But that in “Cozinha do Manel” are treated like any other client, ie they are always well treated.
Mr. Manuel shares the house’s management with his sun in law, while his wife and daughter share the kitchen and prepare the dishes that delight the customers.
The restaurant has a huge counter at the entrance that once served as an eating place and now is bordered and filled with ancient utensils and artifacts. A decoration which also has the company of countless liquors and wine bottles, a lot of them very old.
Down the counter, a showcase reflects the quality of the products, where there’s always octopus, large codfish slices, different sausages preserved in olive, olives and several kinds of fresh vegetables, all in plain sight, with no tricks. Right next it’s the kitchen, with a service counter where the pans and steaming platters are put before the room personnel takes them to the table.
Some steps above is the dining room, lengthwise with a large window at the end. Soberly decorated, half tiled walls, thick wooden bars on the ceiling, dark bricked floor, a nice effect. Intriguing paintings that are nothing less than cotton napkins of the restaurant, in which the clients made some drawings, mainly of Porto city, and were framed afterwards.
Well-set tables, with crisp white towels and all the utensils on top of it. The servicing is professional and thoughtful, well-led. The menu is somewhat short but based on products of great quality and, traditional, genuine, tasty cooking. Very few grilled foods, some stews, but mainly pans’ foods, various types of rice and the great wood-oven roasting tradition – lit every day.
Located in the back of the lower floor, with great iron doors, it’s like a ritual, lighting the ovens in the morning, and again in the afternoon to serve roasting at dinner.
Through those ovens pass the codfish, kid – by ordering – but also the tasty veal, on a daily basis, accompanied by roasted potatoes.
Accompanying these delicacies there’s sautéed spring greens or marvelous mashed spinach, and a wood-oven rice, simply divine.
The meal starts with bread and corn bread, olives, ham, salpicão, shredded codfish with onion and olive oil, codfish balls and patansicas (small pieces coated in batter), small sardines and some other delicacies depending on the season. Vegetables soup but also possibility of chicken soup or sarrabulho mashing.
Fresh whiting that can be either boiled with vegetables or in fluffy fillets, just like the octopus, in fillets or octopus rice.
The codfish is one of the city’s tradition and venerated in here: over coals or in the oven, large slices, medium, always with a lot of onion and potatoes (boiled or roasted). On some days there’s a daily menu – Tuesday the duck rice is “mandatory” – and sometimes, during the winter, an outstanding Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew) and twice a week the more than famous traditional Tripas à Moda do Porto.
Here, in “Cozinha do Manel”, they are rigorously prepared, excellent, with an added curiosity – along with the rice they serve salpicão and black pudding as well as little pieces of toucinho, irresistible.
The roast kid in the wood oven, by ordering, is delicious, small animals, well-seasoned, slowly roasted, toasted on the outside and juicy inside, excellent.
For dessert there’s custard, chocolate mousse, gerimu cake and French toast that delight those having a sweet tooth.
A very complete wine cellar and a wide dissemination of red Vinho Verde, accurately served in mugs of nice effect.
If by chance you had to catch a train, in the nearby Campanhã station, you have most likely lost it already.
Restaurante A Cozinha do Manel
Rua do Heroísmo 215 4300-259
Tel: (+351 )225 363 388