One of the best meals we have had in Portugal was here at DOP in Porto. It is in the old city centre in the Palácio das Artes near the old Stock Exchange (Bolsa) in Porto in northern Portugal, at the mouth of the Douro river.
The decoration is modern and elegant, almost minimalist. Stylish rather than cosy. And so is the food, plus that it is very good. It is, at least partly, based on traditional Portuguese cooking (e.g. the traditional sandwich with spicy sausage, steak and cheese that you can have as a starter – prepared modern-style and served with a delicious bouillon sauce). Sometime style goes a bit over the top, as the marinated salmon cube served as amuse bouche that served on a skewer mounted on a special skewer stand… But generally it keeps on the right side of style and taste.
We tried for example the grilled dorade with a truffles risotto and a “bar” (seabass / wolffish) and lobster served with black squid spaghetti, coteau mussels (razor clams) and lobster bouillon sauce. Delicious! Starters will set you off 7-10 euro and main courses are 20-27 euro. DOC Rui Paula also has some set menus to choose from. All very affordable for the quality you get.
The wine list is of the same quality, extensive and starting from a very reasonable price level going up to whatever you want. We tried an unusual 100% gouveio white Douro wine that was delicious. Staff is very friendly and attentive, service is swift, sometimes even too quick. We have referred several friends there and heard only positive words back. A pleasure to find a restaurant in Portugal that we were unreservedly impressed by. (In many other cases Portugal needs to put a little more effort on the food side.) DOP is definitely an address to put in your little black book. Rui Paula also runs a restaurant in the Douro Valley, close to Pinhao, called DOC. We will certainly try it if we have an occasion.
DOP, Rui Paula, Palácio das Artes, Largo de Sao Domingos 18, 4050-545 Porto, ph 22 20 14 313, www.ruipaula.com
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