French by Name but Portuguese in Cuisine:
Tonight we find ourselves in Chez Lapin, a rustic restaurant on Oporto’s waterfront, close to where we disembarked from our river cruise. Although this restaurant has a French name, Chez Lapin serves traditional Portuguese and Oporto cuisine.
I ask Sergio, the owner’s son, what was behind the French restaurant name and he explains that his mother’s side of the family is French, I think, which explains Sergio’s looks.
Chez Lapin has been serving meals in Oporto for over 70 years and is located in a 16th century building in the Ribeira district.
There are two sections to the restaurant. One section has stone walls, is quite plain and this is where groups like us get to dine. The other section is more eccentric and is crammed full of quirky objects. There are pots and pans, camera, umbrellas, cloth rabbits, witches, photo frames, etc, all hanging from the ceiling or attached to the walls. The restaurants downstairs are small with wooden tables and chairs that are set quite close together, adding to the cosy atmosphere. There is also an upstairs section.
We are served a range of appetizers including chorizo which you grill on your own at the table. We offer our chorizo to the next table as they look like they would enjoy more. It’s lucky too that we looked their way as they are just about to starting tucking into their chorizo. Tony reminds them that the chorizo is only half cooked and that they need to wait till the alcohol arrives to flambé the chorizo. Oops, a few embarrassed looks!
Being by the waterfront, the restaurant is very popular and tonight is no different. The service is bit haphazard and the waiters frequently forget to bring what people ask for.
A few in the group try the rabbit stew, but did not rave about. We order grilled salmon which is fine, but a tad bland. The chocolate cake, not our choice, is a bit dry as well.
Chez Lapin has a cosy atmosphere and is a nice restaurant to roll into after a river cruise but the food is not the best that we’ve had so far. If it’s possible to find a quieter night to be here, the experience may be different.
Chez Lapin Restaurant is at Rua dos Canastreiros, 40-42.
Tel: 22 200 6418