Colares Velho, is a cosy restaurant that sometimes gives itself a different name; ‘Salao de Cha’. Translated from Portuguese into English, means basically, ‘tea room.’ This is the first tea room in Portugal I have ever visited mainly because I wouldn’t even consider having a cup of tea in a restaurant – it is something the Portuguese don’t do very well – being a nation of strong coffee drinkers.
However, this is a nice little place and somewhere we managed to find the last time we were driving from Sintra to the quaint village of Colares. Centrally situated in the village in what used to be the village grocery shop the building has a chocolate box effect with its white washed walls, antique gas lamps and plants trailing up the walls.
The owners have come up with a good idea – having still kept a small area that is utilised as a shop selling top quality home-produced goodies. It means you can sit yourself down for a light lunch or even a cup of cha and a scone not forgetting the whipped cream and jam made from local berries and then afterwards have a mooch around and probably end up spending a fortune on luxury food products. Well, that’s exactly what I did.
Sounds very cosy and it is, the room is very light, supported by slender columns, probably the original ones that held the old shop together. The staff are very welcoming and create a friendly atmosphere making the room a relaxed place to be in.
It was lunch time when we arrived and decided to opt for a light lunch but I would think this is a fine setting to dine in the evening, especially in the winter, as there is a large fireplace that looked as though it could accommodate several large logs. Also, looking at the wine list I would say you would be spoilt for choice with the selection of vintage wines.
So, what did we choose for our light lunch? Firstly, we decided to have a small starter, nothing too elaborate, a plate of bread slightly fried in olive oil accompanied by a small selection of pates and Portuguese cheeses. All good as to be expected.
I then scrutinised the menu and nearly decided on fried fish but then I saw that the menu consisted of some creative vegetarian dishes and in the end we both chose a spinach risotto served with chopped walnuts. Not at all boring, very inventive and with the good use of fresh produce and home-grown herbs. The risotto was not sticky which is the way I like it. I like to be able to wade my fork gently through the rice and don’t like it when the rice is a big blob on top of the fork. So top marks to the chef of Colares Velho.
As my husband was driving we didn’t have any alcoholic beverages but a large bottle of chilled mineral water which was delicious, fizzy and full of those lovely minerals that are supposed to be good for you.
Price-wise, not cheap but not too expensive either, for a 3 course lunch with bottled mineral water, we paid 30 Euros
So there you go, a very cosy, restaurant situated in a picturesque village not too far away from Lisbon and Sintra. A good stopping off point if going or coming back from the beach areas of Colares like Adraga beach which is only 2.5 kilometres away.
The restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday which is normal in Portugal.