Oporto - Eating and Drinking
16 June 2015
It has large premises but can get busy after 7.30pm - it opens at 6.30pm. It has an extensive menu of meat and fish as well as a much better wine list than is customary in restaurants which offer such good value meals. Less than twenty euros will buy a generous main course, starter and dessert as well as a named wine brand. Service is prompt and courteous and menus are multi-lingual.
|The city of Vila Nova de Gaia, opposite Oporto, across the D. Luís bridge, is packed with port-wine company premises, many of which are on the waterfront.
Gaia is reached either by strolling across the lower level of the D. Luis bridge, or by taking the Metro across the upper level to Jardim do Morro stop. From there, you can descend to the quayside either by the cablecar (5 euros) or on foot down the steep winding road. Alternatively, you can take the Guindais funicular from near Batalha down to the riverside, adjacent to the Ponte. The 906 bus is another option from central Porto to the Gaia quayside.
Until fairly recently many of these port wine premises offered free tours and tastings but now most now make a charge e.g. Cálem, by the bridge, charge 6 euros (2015) and Ramos Pinto (further along towards the cable car station) does likewise. Others on the quayside include Sandeman, Real Companhia, Kopke and Ferreira (at the far end just beyond the cablecar station). Further back from the quayside are other firms, notably Taylor's. If on foot, Taylor's is most easily reached by going up the road at the right hand side of Sandeman's, past Offley's uphill; Taylor's is a small entrance on the right of the Rua do Choupelo, where the modern Yeatman hotel complex is on the left. Taylor's has an interesting English language exhibition around their reception area, worth the visit alone.
The Ramos Pinto tour is different from most in that it includes a visit to the company's wood-panelled and historic office and museum area. Also the company's founder was a great marketing man and his striking posters and other products are on view as well as for sale in reproduction form. Most companies offer tours in English but you will need to check their times beforehand otherwise you could end up on a tour in another language.
Typically tours of any of the companies' premises will end with a sampling of at least two different types of port. Most also offer the chance to buy bottles of their port wines; Calem has a very large self-service range of such products.
Left: The view back towards Oporto from the road near Taylor's lodge in VN de Gaia.
Right: Cálem's riverfront premises lie under the cable-car's trajectory.