Want to eat fantastically fresh seafood in the heart of Lisbon? Cervejaria Ramiro or "Ramiro" as its known was the late Anthony Bourdain's favourite Lisbon restaurant and when you take a seat and see all the seafood on offer it's easy to see why.
There's a certain process to getting a table at Cervejaria Ramiro. You enter, swipe on a screen, select your language, enter the number of people in your party and wait. And if you're lucky and you come early enough then you won't have to wait for long. They'll call out your number in the language that you selected on the screen. After a 5 minute wait at 5pm we go upstairs to the sun drenched room and take a seat.
They bring our crisp, white, monogrammed napkins and an iPad. You can either order on the iPad or it can be just an indication of price and the waiter puts in the order for you. Our waiter is friendly and avuncular as are all the gentleman waiters. I'm glad that the waiter and actually all the waitstaff in Lisbon don't want you to over-order because it could have been a very expensive exercise.
We decide to order four things: the scarlet prawns, brown crab, clams and goose barnacles. There is also a plate of bread that if you eat you pay for but it's a good accompaniment to the seafood.
The clams arrive first in a copper pot. They're cooked with white wine, garlic, lemon and coriander and are wonderfully garlicky. They also put down a big plate of buttered toast which are perfect to dip into the buttery garlic sauce.
The crab is the next to arrive. The shell is filled with crab meat mixed with mayonnaise, mustard and other condiments. It is so full of meat that is easy to get out. They also give you a mallet and board so that you can crack the shells and if this proves too difficult, there are also pincers provided. I ask for some mayonnaise and make myself a crab sandwich on the buttered toast with a spoonful of the clam sauce to finish. It's so heavenly and plentiful with crab meat that I make myself four sandwiches!
The goose barnacles are a delicacy also known as percebes and in Portugal they are mostly harvested in Algarve and are difficult to harvest.
These are cooked simply in a brine and so you get the real flavour of the sea. To eat them you simply twist them at each end and it pops apart and the meat comes out easily (and don't forget the little morsel of meat in the corner). I don't mind these, they're really quite nice but I think out of everything that wonderfully meaty crab and the flavours of the clams were my favourite although I'm very glad that I got to try these.
The scarlet prawns are one of the most expensive things on the menu at €81.35 a kilo. But our waiter orders one each and even demonstrates how to slice them open with a knife cross ways (including the head). These are intensely flavoured and sweet and almost too rich for me (did I really say that?).
For all of the wondrous and wonderful seafood tonight, we give the dessert menu a miss. It's a range of most uninspiring items including no less than a magnum ice cream (yes the same kind that you get at the supermarket). And everyone else apparently finishes their meal on a steak sandwich (prego). Instead we leave with the unmistakeable taste of goose barnacles in our mouth.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever tried goose barnacles? Do you have a favourite type of seafood?
This meal was independently paid for.
Av. Alm. Reis nº1 - H, 1150-007 Lisboa, Portugal
Tuesday to Sunday 12pm–12:30am
Phone: +351 21 885 1024