Portuguese Restaurant: No place for vegans

The place is enormous with several different areas to dine.

 Delicious chicken wings and fries from Portuguese (photo credit: Courtesy)
Delicious chicken wings and fries from Portuguese
(photo credit: Courtesy)

After my last outing, to a top vegan Tel Aviv eatery, Portuguese certainly provided a contrast. Here it’s all about meat – grilled, smoked fried, braised and roasted.

It’s very much a diner experience and will make Americans in particular feel nostalgic – a blackboard with all the day’s specials, familiar side dishes like coleslaw, pickles and onion rings; and wine, served in coffee mugs for good measure.

But there are some Israeli elements too – soft background music of beloved classics, rice with almonds and roasted vegetables as a side dish to the huge amounts of beef and chicken.

The place is enormous with several different areas to dine. We picked a cozy table for two by the window.

Our meal began with two piping hot and juicy asado sausages. As a starter it was a perfect dish, preparing the palate for what was to come.

 There's no place for vegans in Portuguese in Tel Aviv (credit: Courtesy) There's no place for vegans in Portuguese in Tel Aviv (credit: Courtesy)

The main course appeared on a metal tray lined with parchment paper – not the height of elegance, but the place has no pretensions to be anything more than an informal family restaurant.

We split our main course choices so that my companion had the beef and I had the chicken. A huge amount of food arrived at our table. The sliced beef was slightly rare but very soft and was delicately flavored with rosemary. The half chicken had been cooked on the rotisserie and was very well-seasoned, crispy and not dry. I felt terrible leaving half of it but it was a massive portion.

I loved the aioli sauce, although it was more spicy than garlicky and did not really live up to its name. The antipasti, which I think I have mentioned before is Hebrew for roasted vegetables, were nicely singed and the sweet potato was especially good although the eggplant and peppers also made their contribution (NIS 30). The soft teeth of garlic brought an extra welcome touch to the pungent flavors.

The coleslaw was made from red and white cabbage as well as the other ingredients so it was colorful and nicely crunchy (NIS 18/26).

For drinks, my companion downed a very large glass of Carlsberg lager, which was just right with the unsophisticated food (NIS 22). I had the red wine – a blend – from a small boutique winery nearby. Having it in a coffee mug felt very wrong but didn’t detract from the taste.

Although neither of us felt we could consume another crumb, we decided we had a professional duty to at least taste a dessert of which there are several selections. We chose something dubbed ‘nochelato’ which turned out to be a chocolate, nougat and pareve cream concoction. It provided the final sweet touch of what had been an excellent and very filling meal.

Portuguese Restaurant, kosher 6 Te’enat StreetBat-ChenTel: (09) 953-1549Open: Sunday to Tuesday: 11:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.Wednesday, Thursday: 11.30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.Saturday: closed

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.