Over the years we have made many trips to what was the "Solar Vinho do Porto". It boasted an impressive collection of port wines, literally hundreds. The staff were genteel, knowledgeable and warm; the views from the balcony garden, breathtaking. Through those visits we developed a love of ports and appreciation for whites, tawnys, rubys, LBVs and vintages. There is a whole port world out there . . .
Before going in this last time we had heard it had changed hands and was unfortunately a shadow of its formal glory. We couldn't believe it, but it was true! Although the new owner had definitely invested in refurbishing the restaurant and patio areas, almost everything else about the experience was a miss. The port menu was good, but not exceptional. It didn't have the breadth or depth it used to have; additionally what they did feature was likely available at other fine restaurants for much less. What was really odd about the place though was the staff. There were two men working the front of the house during our visit, the bartender and older GM(?). Both tried to appear stuffy and "high brow" and clearly weren't. It was pretty comical. When I asked the bartender about the advertised house cocktail specialties, he said he had "five creations, but couldn't possibly make more than two kinds in one day". It went downhill from there . . . The drinks were good (although not great for 12 Euro each) and the view is still spectacular from the patio. As we were leaving, the GM(?) said in his best, affected Dean Martin voice, "buh-bye", Bizarre!
We were there about an hour and left around 8 PM. The place was empty. If our evening was any indicator, I doubt it will survive more than a year or two. They say you can never go back, but we're hoping the next venture here will be more successful and that we just might recapture some of those wonderful memories.
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