I don’t have the capacity to research the history of Portuguese eating and drinking places, but there seems to have been a tradition for more humble beer bars, where you also could get snacks or more substantial meals. In recent years, the Cervejeira have been reborn as chains of more wholesome family restaurants, where you can get standardized meals as well as beer or other drinks. Think Wetherspoon’s without the sad old men right inside the entrance.
I did not have the time to dine in any of them, but the menus seem fine enough, so that will have to wait for my next visit.
The beer theme is fairly strong, with some of them pretending to be brewpubs or at least micro breweries. The truth is that the beers are made in industrial breweries which do not seem quite as idyllic as these pine and glass premises.
How are the beers? The shopping centre across the street from my hotel had two of the chains represented – Cervejeira Lusitana and Portugalia. I tried what they had on tap.
At the Lusitana, the menu promises six beers, but they actually had one wheat, one pils and one dunkel. After some linguistic challenges, I managed to get a sampler of each, and I was immediately relieved I hadn’t gone for larger measures. My home brewing friends would be ashamed to serve beer of this quality. I have a feeling this si a beer themed company run by marketing men who don’t drink beer. It’s not the first of that type. I just feel so disappointed at wasted opportunities like this. A little effort would have gone a long way here.
The Portugalia has at least some historical credibility as a brewery tap, even if there is no brewing being done in the company. I tried to get some more details, but their marketing department just told me the beer is being made by a “major brewery”. But the beer were quite all right. The lager was crisp and refreshing, less sweet than the national average, and the stout had some roasted malt and a hint of smoke.
These two places share a large terrace with a third restaurant. This has a fine view across the river, and I imagine it must be a great place to while away a summer afternoon or evening. But then I’d advise to sit on the Portugalia part of the terrace. Or maybe order a glass of chilled white port. Make that a large glass, will you?