A EIRA DO MEL
Name of establishment
A Eira do Mel, Vila do Bispo
A traditional western Algarve farmhouse building close to the centre of the village, painted vivid shades of blue on the outside. Inside, it has an authentic rustic feel, with a fantastic timbered ceiling and rural artefacts.
A busy atmosphere, with the sound of people enjoying themselves - there's a good buzz at the bar and the hubbub of animated conversation in the main restaurant, with tables made up of couples, families and groups of friends (locals and visitors). They also have large sharing tables which means you never know who you may end up sitting next to!
Owner-chef Jose or his wife Isalia will greet you, offer you couvert (try the delicious home-made sardine paté) and tell you what special dishes are on the menu that day.
What to eat?
The restaurant is part of the Slow Food movement - it's nothing to do with the service, but participants believe in the unhurried pleasure to be gained from serving good quality, freshly-cooked, and locally-produced food. So the fish comes from the harbour in Sagres, and the meat and vegetables from local farms.
Starters include wild shrimps stewed in olive oil and young garlic, Algarvean ewe's cheese and boiled quail eggs served on a bed of sea salt.
Main course choices include fish or octopus cataplana, farmers' style lamb stew, and stewed wild boar with red wine sauce and sweet carrots.
Home-made desserts include lemon ice cream with ginger, almond tart with orange sorbet, or fig cake with chocolate and spices.
What to drink?
A good selection of Portuguese wines. Support local producers and order a bottle from an Algarve vineyard such as Quinta do Barranco Longo.
Why do you love it?
Like stepping back in time, to the days when most restaurants served good local food. A great place to spend an entire evening without looking at your watch (or Blackberry).
The main restaurant section eats around 40, with a second room available for overspill.
Estrada do Castelejo in the centre of Vila do Bispo, close to the municipal market.
Starters from around €4, main courses from around €9. Wine prices are very competitive - as you would expect in this less-commercialised region of the Algarve.
Open every evening for dinner except Sundays.