Where the Portuguese community gathers and passion transcends

Immigrants have contributed so much to Australia, especially through their foods and traditions. We are a far richer nation with ethnic communities who carry their passion for their country of origin. Their passion transcends to local foods, inspire our taste buds and encourage us to learn about the world.untitled-2

Casa Do Benefica is well hidden in a local tennis club in Marrickville. It’s a place where the Portuguese community gathers with a blend of tennis players. The walls are covered with photos of Sport Lisboa e Benfica football club. Being a football fan I was impressed when I saw photos of this grand football club, a two time European Champion. I spot Eusebio in a corner, one of Portugal’s most celebrated players, and I could hear passionate football talk from the locals as they dovoured the placa do dia (plate of the day) with a glass of vinho (wine), go the reds!

The kitchen and service is run by a friendly team who constantly remind you to relax and enjoy the occasion. There is no fuss here, but they sure have a dedication towards serving authentic recipes and keeping the local palates happy.

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Favaito

We started by ordering  Favaitos at the bar, an aperitif made from Galego muscat grapes from the Favaios region . A great starter for what was to come. Max who looks after the bar, convinced me to follow this with a Vinho Verde, a Portuguese wine variety that is a nice match for the seafood  here. Vinho Verde is acidic, light and aromatic, often with a light fizz, sometimes with a touch of sweetness. Max who proudly wears his bright red Benfica shirt was spot on!

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Vinho Verde

We were soon reminded where we were, with a delivery of soft Portuguese rolls, olives and butter. They don’t hold back on the rolls too. Head of service, Ricardo, tells us ‘there is no way a meal in Portugal would start without bread and olives’.

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Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato

We followed this with a plate of Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato (clams in garlic sauce). We were told the key ingredient in the sauce is mustard, as soon as you dip a piece of your soft Portuguese roll in the sauce, you are left pondering in complete astonishment, how can it be so good! The clams were meaty and perfectly cooked. So tasty that you just wanted more and more.

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Polvinhos Grelhados

Our next plate arrives, polvinhos grelhados, a wonderful plate of little grilled tender octopus, swimming in a delicious sauce of olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar. At that moment we all got it, they can never serve too much bread here.

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Arroz de Marisco

Pedro calmly makes it to our table with our Arroz de Marisco (seafood rice) served in an eye catching traditional terracota dish. I ask Pedro about his favourite Portuguese dish, his eyes open wide with excitement as he announces Bacalhau, they have a few recipes on their menu. We didn’t order Bacalhau this time, as we wanted to have another good reason to come back. We were in awe at the sight of the Arroz de Marisco, it is said it holds a special place in the hearts of Portuguese people. After tasting it we understood why, a soupy delicious fish broth, with rice and a good selection of seafood.

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Peixe Assado

We end our Portuguese feast with a grilled snapper that’s nicely coated with olive oil, garlic, parsley and accompanied with boiled vegetables. The fish was moist and tasty, just like all the dishes we had.We pour more wine and say saude (cheers) for the amazing experience.

In admiration we made our way to the kitchen to thank chef extraordinaire, Ivette. She is passionate about her food, kind and generous, she even asked us to join her for a staff meal, Pedro poured some wine and Ricardo plated some feijoada, delicious!

This place far exceeded all our expectations, we sadly left, but we sensed our lives had just been enriched by a culture that is beautiful in so many ways. As the Portuguese locals would say ‘ala-arriba Benfica’!

Casa do Benfica Restaurant
1 Centennial Street, Marrickville
(02) 9569 8058

Open
Mon to Sat: 11am–3pm and 6pm–9pm
Sun: 11am–3pm

marrickvilletennis.com/tennis/pages/restaurant

 

 

 

 

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