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Dining at Trindade in Lagos, Portugal

The Trindade restaurant belongs to the campsite of the same name but it is open to all the public not just campers. Its situation isn’t the most salubrious being in front of the football pitch and the campsite, facing a busy road. As you walk away from Lagos up the hill to walk to Praia da Luz you take a turning on the right. You can see the signpost for the restaurant and campsite above the road.

The reason I love this restaurant is because it is a little bit eccentric and full of people from all walks of life. I came across it when I first lived in Lagos after walking back from Don Ana beach and nipped in for a beer one balmy evening. Over the years and every year without fail when I go back to visit I have to give the Trindade my custom. In all the years I have been visiting it has never changed – except for a lick of paint.

From the outside it looks like a home-made shed come greenhouse. The side that I call a shed is the bar and it is a very long bar and always reminds me of Cheers the programme. It has the same raucous atmosphere with the locals shouting and arguing amongst themselves while talking about football and of course, watching a game or two on the TV. It is always very hectic and at the most I have only ever seen two people serving behind the bar so they are always rushed off their feet. A great atmosphere.

The greenhouse part of the building is the restaurant. It is also long but very narrow and on one side, full size windows which look out on to a sort of car park which is used by people going to the football pitch.

The decor inside is an off white or white depending whether decorations have been executed before your visit or not.The room is only wide enough to accommodate tables of four and there are about 8 of those with one larger table situated near the door at the end. What makes this place eccentric is the use of plastic potted plants and flowers. They are everywhere and very colourful if in bad taste.

I always like to sit at the very end near the kitchen so I can have a nosey inside to see the cook cooking. This lady is a burly Portuguese lady with strong shoulders and a good hand grip. Built for arm wrestling, I think. She has a smiley face though so there is nothing to be scared of. Sometimes when the restaurant gets busy she comes out to take the orders. The only other person I have seen take orders and do all the waiting is one of the guys who serves in the bar also so he is always worn out.

Okay, so let’s talk abut the food. The menu isn’t large and consists of popular Portuguese dishes such as seafood rice, cataplana, steak in mushroom sauce and tuna cooked in a tomato and onion sauce. One thing that the Trindade specialises in is fresh crab and steak on a stone which I will describe for you now. As this restaurant gets busy very quickly you are always offered plenty of couverts with your drinks which is a great idea as long as you don’t eat too much so there is no room for the main course. Couverts here consist of thick slices of bread made from the local bakery in Lagos. To cut the bread the chef places a whole loaf under her arm and slices from the front of the loaf backwards. No, it’s okay – the bread isn’t stale it is just her quirky little thing. This bread is delicious – a little like Irish soda bread. To accompany this you can either have a bowl of home-made Caldo Verde soup or a full goat’s cheese from the Serra de Estrelas which is in the north of Portugal. I also recommend a bowl of olives. They are very soft and juicy here.

Steak on the stone

When I first saw this on the menu I was intrigued with the concept and had to try it. The piece of steak is rare and comes served on a plate followed by a piping red hot lava stone with a small tray of sauces in glass bowls. You then cut pieces of steak to your acquired size and thickness and place it on the stone which you will then hear a sizzle and see the meat brown and shrink. A fantastic idea – you can cook the steak to just exactly how you like it and each mouthful will be hot and delicious. The individual sauces are piri-piri, mustard, mayonnaise, chilli-dip and horseradish. Apart from this I had a crisp tomato and onion salad consisting of large slices of fresh sweet onions with slices of juicy, crisp beefsteak tomatoes garnished with rock salt and olive oil with a touch of lemon juice. I found the whole experience very enjoyable and quite filling. Full marks.

Fresh Crab

The crabs served at Trindade are freshly caught every day and I absolutely love the taste of the white meaty flesh of the upper body. My husband refuses to eat crab because he finds it so messy but I like toying and teasing the meat from the legs with the special forks. Sometimes I don’t bother to use the tools but use the crab foot or toe to pick meat out of the legs and body. It is a little time consuming but good fun and when you are in the Algarve you have all the time in the world. I don’t usually order anything else with this as fresh crab is delicious on its own but Trindade does offer a dressing made from lemon, garlic and olive oil or a small bowl of garlic butter is sometimes nice to pour over the meat.

Desserts are plentiful and come in huge portions. My favourite is always creme caramel which is served on a dish of fresh, cool caramel sauce. You can really taste the fresh eggs and vanilla in this dessert.

Wine is plentiful and is brought from the bar on the other side. As I have said before in my Portuguese restaurant reviews, wine is reasonably priced in most restaurants and especially in the Trindade as it caters for campers as well as locals. A bottle of red Borba which is a good Alentejo wine will cost about 5 Euros.

I would say for a three course meal for two people including wine, the price starts from 40 euros. Although the situation is a bit rough and ready, the restaurant has character and it is very popular with campers from all over the world as well as camping residents who particularly on this site are very colourful characters indeed and most of them very musical.  They often bring their guitars or accordions inside the restaurant to play a little ditty or two. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and I thoroughly recommend it for a night out in the Algarve.