Restaurant Reviews

An Actual Rip Off; Traditional Portuguese @ Gambrinus, Lisbon

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Let me start off by saying - no it was not our choice to go here. We were in a group and the group was following the recommendations of a single person who has really eccentric taste and loves the look and feel of a place to be exceptionally traditional...

Well I have no problem with traditional places. With traditional restaurants even. Actually, traditional Portuguese food is incredible. But not at this restaurant.

We were greeted to an ambience something like a hybrid between Medieval Times and a creepy old church. Dark brown wood everywhere. If I'm honest, I don't mind this at all. It's pretty cool.

But the food.. is not where it's at. The service is slow. The food arrived cold in almost all instances.

Let me get explicitly into the details.

So we arrived and asked for a table for 4. After like 20 minutes of the waiter saying it couldn't be done and going through his reservations - with the entire store except for one table being empty - he finally agreed to giving us a table if we could leave by 8:30.

No problem, plenty of time for us to eat. We weren't planning on dilly-dallying anyway.

We sat and had to wait ages before our order was taken. Ages before we got our couvert and our wine.

When it finally came, we started chomping down on couvert - which was literally just toast (pretty good bread, but nothing special at all, especially for Portugal which has incredible bread), with butter on it.

A carefully piled stack of toast. Here's what it looked like after we got to the last few pieces of it:

As we would finish off the bread, or even sometimes if it would get low and we still had a few pieces, the wait staff would replace these pieces.

In every other Portuguese restaurant I've ever been to, this is normal, but - and you can only understand how much of an outrage this is if you know that it's illegal to do this without disclosing to us beforehand - when we got the bill we found out we were literally charged for each and every refill of toast.

I cannot express how mad I still am to this day about this. We agreed to couvert. To one charge of couvert. That's overpriced to begin with (for TOAST).

Then they kept racking up the numbers by switching without asking us if we consented to paying for another refill... Madness.

Okay but it does stay bad, so let me tell you the rest.

One person at our table ordered a cheese platter. This cheese platter was obviously easy to make.

They could have waited to prepare it until just before all our food was done and served all of us at the same time.

They could have given this individual his platter right away.

Either of these would have been better options than what they did.

They made the platter at the start, and then proceeded to leave it out on a table next to ours until all the rest of the meals were ready.

Well, cheese sweats if you leave it out, so when it was finally presented, it looked like this:

So sad. And I'm not just talking about the pathetic amount of cheese and actual low quality of the cheese they brought to him on the platter. Which was 18 whole euros mind you.

A complete rip off. I'm not exaggerating at all.

I was outraged at this point, but the individual who ordered this was like, whatever, it's no big deal, it's for the group. Still. This place made me mad.

I got something more traditional, the pork with chestnuts and a side of potatoes and spinach, a meal I've had elsewhere in Portugal and in my head was something they could not mess up.

Oh boy did they...

It was not good. It had no cream or sauce, which is entirely usual for this dish, the pork was dry, the spinach was cold, and the potatoes were just average.

I couldn't even eat the chestnuts, so I gave them to my husband Thomas, who ordered the Partridge Pie, which sadly he did not snap a picture of (all these pictures are his because I couldn't even bare to get my phone out for this place).

Again, not good. Just not. And it took us forever to have gotten the food - we paid ridiculous prices, most of it was cold.

Basically there is no upside to this place. I have no idea why people go here.

I couldn't imagine they have regulars besides those nostalgic for an earlier period of time.

I can't imagine the customers they have that are tourists could be happy if they knew how much of a rip off it was in comparison to other restaurants. I cannot imagine a foodie being happy here at all because the food is bad.

Objectively average and at those crazy exorbitant prices, an abomination.

Avoid this place like the plague.