Good Moments is its parent company: we had more than a few of those. From a first walk around the old town we thought this was a place to be, for coffee and cake, a glass of wine in the sun or a meal. It was secluded from traffic, with the statue of Afonso in the square beyond and the cathedral behind the wall. Service and refreshments just had to live up to appearance, and they did.
Our first visit was for capuccino – the real thing, not the milk and coffee layers some serve – with of course cake: Dom Rodrigo, a filo parcel with an almond and honey blend inside. and Torta de Laranja, like a Swiss roll but with orange-saturated almond pastry.
We had to go again, and this time had chocolate cake with, for one a meia da leite (coffee with milk) and for the other Americano. Chocolate cake it was called, but it was a confection of figs and chocolate with an apricot coulis and ice cream. Misnomer to a lawyer but a delight to us.Twice lucky meant checking the menu for a meal,
A booking – just as well, the place seems always busy – found us seated by a window overlooking the square. Not many were outside as it was one of the few wet days of our holiday. Nonetheless, the rain soon passed. We had decided on cataplanas, having read about them and seen a video of the development of the earthenware casserole that gives its name to the dish, into copper and now stainless steel versions. We had already enjoyed one on a previous holiday.
Mostly cataplana is reserved for two diners, and the price reflects this. We chose fish and seafood for the main, then found we could also have one of pears as dessert: hence the plural above.
It seems always a good idea to ask advice on wine with local dishes, and our waiter was very helpful. He suggested a white called Odelouca, which complemented the fish well. The pears were poached in red wine, always a favourite, and they lived up to expectation.
We must have spent well over two hours, and every moment – not just a few – was more than good. Not this time, but previously, we had noticed a video playing that seemed to show the restaurant being reconstructed from a near-ruinous state. It has certainly been transformed. Although the traditional painted tiles of Portugal are called azuleijos, the tertulia of its name perhaps refers to the roof tiles, also very much characteristic of the Algarve. Mistake! Looking it up I find it means a social gathering of literati or artistic people: perhaps that explains its popularity, and suggests the fire brigade and coastguard members we saw at lunch have interests outside the day job.
It was well after 3.30 pm when we left, having arrived at 1, and beneath the Arco da Vila we met the guitarist we had heard at noon. He had just finished his 3 pm recital, and was as pleased with the audience as we were with lunch.