Last Friday we went to the Tromba Rija restaurant, close to the Docas area of Lisbon. It is actually located in an area a couple of kilometres away from Docas, on a side-road next to the main 24 de Julho avenue and the Santos train station, where old river-side warehouses have been converted into new and trendy restaurants and night-clubs. It’s not easy to get to with public transport so you would have to take a taxi or go in a car to get there, but it’s well worth it.
Although the building is new, once inside the decor has more of a rustic feel, with ample use of stone and wood. We were very lucky, since we hadn’t reserved a table but just arrived on the spur of the moment. Fortunately it was still early, and the restaurant manager was kind enough to find a couple of chairs in the back to place at a table meant for two, but more than sufficient to accommodate the four of us.
The idea behind this restaurant is simple, but efficient and attractive. It’s basically a buffet service, but don’t let that put you off, because the plates they serve are wonderful traditional Portuguese dishes with such a variety that any and all tastes are catered for. The plates are grouped in selections of cold dishes: vegetables, rices, pastas, salads, cold cuts, eggs, olives, cured ham; fried foods: courgettes, fried fish, croquettes, savoury pasties; hot dishes: chestnuts, rice, kidneys, mushrooms, beans, spinach, chicken, liver, rabbit, moelas (gizzards), sautés; enchidos: a variety of chouriços and other cold sausages and meats, smoked and cured meats; cheeses: an amazing variety of different Portuguese cheeses of all types.
The meal is organised in the following way: after sitting down at your table and choosing your drinks (selection of red, white, sparkling or “green” (vinho verde) wines, soft drinks, beer, sangria – all included in the fixed price), you take a plate and sample any of the above mentioned dishes, going to the buffet bar as many times as you wish (and every time you finish your plate, the waiters will whisk it away together with your knife and fork, so that you start again with a clean plate).
The only thing you have to remember is to leave enough space for the main hot dishes: every day they have “Bacalhau Assado na brasa com batatas à murro e migas” (grilled cod with new potatoes that have been slightly crushed to allow them to soak up the sauces, and a breadcrumb mix), and at the weekends 2 extra dishes, one fish and one meat.
You are then presented with a large platter of fruits, mostly tropical: mango, papaya, grapes, kiwi, figs, plums, guava, kumquats. Next comes a selection of nuts; hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, etc. and of course to finish off a selection of deserts; cakes, cheesecake, chocolate and mango mouse, rice-pudding, caramel puddings, etc.
As you enjoy the nuts and deserts, a choice of digestifs is available: port wine of course, aguardente and an almond licquor (amêndoa amarga). And all the time you can ask for more wine, beer, champagne or whatever you need!
We finished our meal completed sated and as happy as larks! The food was simply delicious in every way – fresh, tasty and varied. The restaurant is very popular with groups from companies, but the foreign and local business men and women sat side by side with Portuguese families to make for a mixed clientele. For a unique experience and food to please all ages and tastes, this restaurant is definitely to be recommended.
The all-inclusive price is €32.50 per person (€29.50 mid-week. Children under 5 are free, older children pay half-price)
Restaurante Tromba Rija Lisboa
Rua Cintura do Porto de Lisboa – Edifício 254, Armazém I
1200- 109 Lisboa
Tlf: +351 213 971 507 ; Fax: +351 213 971 203