If you visit Portugal and you want to eat seafood, you have to visit a restaurant in Lisbon: Aqui Ha Peixe.
It’s located on Rua da Trinidade, 18 in the Chiado neighborhood.
The low-key restaurant welcomes you with a huge fish tank on your left when you enter. There are two rooms.
The front room seats about 20 people and is flanked by a kitchen. The larger back L-shaped room seats another 50 diners. The high, white ceilings give the restaurant an open, airy feeling.
The windows look out on the Rua Trinidad, a busy one-way street. Stone walls and stone archways evoke a Gothic time period. Diners sit at wooden tables covered with white linen tablecloths. Eclectic art decorates walls. Some art echoes the restaurant’s fish theme. One wall includes framed drawings featuring different species of fish. Some windows are decorated with pink and white orchids atop vertical wine boxes.
As is customary in many Portuguese restaurants will place an appetizer plate with a selection of cheeses, olives and pate on your plate. Aqui Ha Peixe follows the tradition. Upon seating, the waiter immediately served a basket of Portuguese rolls, a plate of queijo de azeitao (olive cheese), queijo de ovelha e cabra (sheep and goat cheese) and pate de sardinha (sardine pate) as well as a dish of olives.
The menu is varied. You can choose among 15 starters- ranging in price from 3.50 to 19 Euros. They include Lulinhas salteadas con alinho e coentros (Little squid sautéed with garlic and coriander), Vieras flamejadas (flambe scallops), Gambas al ajillo (Shrimp grilled in garlic) or Ovos revueltos com espargos e gambas (Scrambled eggs with asparagus and prawns).
If you have filled up on bread and cheese and want something light before eating your main course, you may want to try the vegetable soup. The chartreuse-colored soup comes pureed. You can taste peas, carrots, onions, celery and potato. The puree was consistent without being heavy.
When it comes to main courses, fish lovers will not be disappointed. You have nine choices — ranging in price from 17.50 to 36.00 Euros. Some of those choices include the following: Peixe do Dia Grelhado com legumes ao vapor e batata assada (Grilled Fish of the Day with steamed vegetables and roasted potatoes), Robalo Grelhado com legumes ao vapor e batata assada (Grilled Sea Bass with steamed vegetables and roasted potatoes for two), Bacalhau Assado com batatas a murro e cebola confitada (Roasted codfish with baked potatoes and onion confit). For the rare diner who goes there and may not want to eat seafood, there are also three meat choices on the menu: Brazilian Rump Steak, Portuguese Loin Beef Steak, or the Prato do Dia ao Almoco Segundo a inspiracao do Chafe (Lunch Dish of the day according to the Chef’s inspiration.)
On the day I ate there, the fish of the day was Grouper. It was fresh, warm and meaty. It tasted like kosher salt had been rubbed into the flesh before being grilled. If you want a salt-free option, you may want to avoid the grilled option. The grouper came served with a mélange of al dente vegetables: green string beans, julienned carrots and roasted potatoes with the skin on. The waiter also served a side of yellow rice with herbs.
You can’t go wrong with the Monkfish which was meaty and served with a side of green broccoli rabe. It came accompanied with a lemon and olive oil sauce seasoned with herbs which served as the perfect accompaniment for the fish without overpowering it.
For dessert or (sobremesas), you can select among 10 options — including homemade ones- ranging from 3 to 6 Euros. Among choices: encharcada de ovos (soaked eggs-traditional Portuguese dessert with eggs and sugar), bolo de chocolate (chocolate cake with whipped cream), mousse de maracuja (passion fruit mousse), gelado de Amendoa com Frangelico hazelnut liqueur). I opted for gelado de baunilha come figo em calda (vanilla icre cream with soaked figs in syrup). The figs were sweet and surrounded by a syrup that was sweet without being too gooey.
Wine lovers will find plenty of choices too. You can choose from a variety of white, rose, or red wines. You can also choose one of the vinho verdes (literally “green wines”), made in Portugal. I opted for the restaurant’s own house brand, “Aqui Ha Peixe”, a regional wine from the Alentejo region. The medium-bodied house wine was clean with fruit aromas and light mineral notes. It was the perfect accompaniment for fish.
Dinner for one costs approximately 50-65 Euros.
The restaurant’s website: http://www.aquihapeixe.pt