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Restaurant “Grumpy Mamas”

Saturday 10th June 2023.

So I take a 10 euro note out of the newspaper’s petty cash and try my luck in Monchique, and why not? I’ve heard about the opening of a new restaurant going by the name of Grumpy Mamas. This is where I’ll try and see whether ten euros will buy me a healthy lunch including pud. Will I succeed? The small restaurant is open Wednesday to Friday, between 10am and 3pm. The mamas, you see, have kids …

On the way to Rua Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco, the bottleneck of Monchique, I am struck by the mirror of a tourist bus on its way up to the summit of Fóia. So this is where I’m nearly run over, on this very narrow mountain alley which has hardly enough space for pedestrians. If you ask me, this street should immediately be closed to commercial traffic, starting with vehicles above 3.5 tons, such as busses, log trucks and suchlike.

Once arrived at the restaurant I realise that it is more than just a restaurant. Punters can buy environmentally-friendly items too: alongside detergents in dedicated reusable glass containers (no waste), there is also packaging-free flour of organic origin. Shampoo and other cosmetic items too are for sale, displayed on cupboard shelves. The restaurant has some 20 seats, plus a few more outside on the terrace.

I choose a table inside and take a look at the menu describing the dishes of the day. On a Wednesday the chef suggests a crepe with mushrooms and spinach as well as a salad costing six euros and a second deal, consisting of a lentil dhal with rice and sweet potatoes plus a salad, for eight euros. The drink of the day is a freshly-squeezed orange-carrot juice priced at  three euros. Dessert is a cinnamon whirl with a coffee setting me back €4.50. Which takes me way over the ten euros I’d meant to invest here. I briefly toy with the idea of going back home and manning the stove myself. No. Today’s my day off, where I get to go out to eat and test the culinary skills of other people.

I try the lentil dhal and order a freshly-squeezed fruit juice. The decision is a balm for the palate and taste buds alike. The lentil dhal is pleasantly sharp, with exactly the right level of seasoning. The juice cools the mild spiciness down again. What’s still missing is a home-made yoghurt with fresh fruit and nuts of the season: apricots, peaches, with walnuts too. This kind of yoghurt is available from a widely known local producer, prepared with fresh goat’s milk.

This small new restaurant marks a new beginning for a clientele not spoiled by meat options, making the pilgrimage to Monchique to find a pork roast on their plate. Meat-free cooking is a true culinary art, for which no animal is fattened up, slaughtered and cooked. Chef Zaira Bissig has opened up her small kitchen for three days a week to celebrate a healthy meat-free diet. She is a good cook with a lot of potential. And Nadine Müller’s service is friendly and competent. In fact, this is already the second vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Monchique. You should try it…

I will award this little restaurant nine-and-a-half (9.5) out of the maximum 15 points. Three points are taken off for the unacceptable access to the restaurant, and it could offer its guests a lot more comfortable seating and decor. The WC is clean, yet in terms of construction a disaster, like a lot in Monchiue. Half the village consists of crumbling houses and barracks waiting to be torn down, as their inhabitants have either died without serious heirs, or not offered qualified jobs. The biggest employer is the City Hall, which kind of says it all. There is a lack of culture, a theatre, a cinema, at least a Casa do Povo. A small new restaurant like this can become a place to foster encounters, a place where a culinary culture could grow, at least standing out from all the rest in a very positive way.

Restaurant „Grumpy Mamas“

Monchique, Rua Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco, 13

Tel. 969 648 009

 

Uwe Heitkamp (62)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations: Dina Adão, John Elliot, Ruth Correia, Patrícia Lara, Kathleen Becker
Photos: Uwe Heitkamp

 

 

 

 

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