Spare Ribs, Reversed

Address:Pontão São Lazaro, Av. Do Mar, 9000-017 Funchal, Portugal
Status:Open (last checked on 4 April 2024)
Eaten:"Barbecue Spare Ribs," a few beers

I know people who before traveling to some remote and exotic place would carefully examine tourist guides and plan their holidays perfectly, knowing far in advance which tours they will undertake and which resta­urants they will visit on every day of their stay. These are smart people, and I’m not one of them. Before travelling to Madeira (the longest flight ever for me!) I had bought a tourist guide and even skimmed through it a couple of times, but all I finally remembered was “Beerhouse,” the name of some restaurant that served local dishes and, well, beer. As luck would have it, I came across the Beerhouse on my very first evening in Funchal and left extremely impressed. The “Espetada,” a beef skewer, which is one of the two most popular dishes in Madeira (the other one being the scabbard fish with a banana), was excellent, and the homemade beer, the Imperial Stout in particular, was nothing short of outstanding. Having had nine days in front of me, I knew I would be back, especially since I saw that the restaurant also offered spare ribs, or “Entrecosto na Brasa.”

These ribs were as exotic as Madeira itself, perhaps even more so. First, they were cut wrongly: whereas “traditional” spare ribs would have a lot of bones with a bit of meat in between, these ones consisted only of two ribs with plenty of meat attached to them. Anywhere else, such a dish would be called a “cutlet.” Second, there was either very little marinade or no marinade at all. Despite that, the meat tasted almost exactly like the meat of the ribs at Strandcafé, as if cooked on their super-expensive and sophisticated grill. On the other hand, there was no comparison with Strandcafé in terms of sauces. The garlic dip, which was the only one served with the ribs, was far too weak to make any kind of impression. Worse still, the meat totally lacked salt – a problem that was easy to resolve, but that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

I very seldom express my opinion about the dishes I eat to the waiters, but today was an exception (and the strong beer might have had something to do with that). I was very honest in articulating my complaints and giving suggestions: more salt and a much stronger dip. The waiter seemed to be listening, though I have no doubt he forgot everything I had said the moment I paid my bill. Thus, if I had to give a recommendation, when in Funchal, visit the Beerhouse. It’s truly one of the better restaurants around. However, forget about the spare ribs; the more traditional dishes are likely to make you much happier. And, of course, try the beer, it’s absolutely amazing.

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