O Policia (Lisbon) by Barnacle
This was my second visit to this well established restaurant close to Lisbon’s Museum of Modern Art on the Rue Marques Sá da Bandeira. The first was back in 2008 when I was giving my first paper at a European history conference and was quite nervous. I research the history of crime and was taken here by colleagues from other universities all of whom were experts on policing and punishment history. O Policia used to be the haunt of the Lisbon constabulary, hence the policeman motif that is repeated on all the crockery and menus. Needless to say all of us historians of crime were delighted by this!
This year I was back for another conference (its so hard being an academic sometimes!) and feeling much more relaxed, and I had brought Goose along so she could relax and enjoy the Portuguese sunshine. We went to O Policia on our first night and this time I was much more interested in the food.
The menu is fairly traditional for a Lisbon eatery: fresh fish and shellfish dominate, although they had plenty of meat and salads if you prefer. It was quiet at 7.30 as most Portuguese don’t seem to go out to eat much before 9, plus this was a Wednesday. This was nice because we were able to chat to the staff and take our time.
We started with gambas (prawns) in garlic, which were recommended by our friendly waiter (who spoke some English), along with some white asparagus in a vinaigrette. The prawns were gorgeous; plump and perfectly cooked. The asparagus too was delicious, a bit soft for my taste but enlivened by the sauce. As with all restaurants in Lisbon bread and olives appear without being requested so if you don’t want them, send them away as you will be charged for them. We were hungry (not unusually!), so they went down well 🙂
Goose ordered char-grilled codfish which came with a tomato sauce and char-grilled roast potatoes; I chose Garouper (a local fish) and our waiter brought over a piece to confirm the size. Much of the fish here is sold by weight so you could ask for a smaller piece if you want. We shared and there was more than enough to feed us (and probably someone else!). The grilled garouper was meaty, but ever so soft as well. It sort of melted in the mouth, a delicious and delicate fish. My veg was secondary and I’d have happily just eaten the fish but Goose really enjoyed her ‘smashed’ roasted potatoes. The garlic on the codfished worked really well but after the grouper’s clean taste I found it a little overpowering; I certainly think I chose the best option!
We washed all of this down with a bottle of Vinho Verde, the green wine that tastes so good with Portuguese food. I could happily quaff this all day long and its a crying shame that its not more popular (and available) over here. We were too stuffed to add dessert so settled instead for coffee (small and strong) and tea. The bill came to about 90 euros; not cheap by Lisbon standards but reasonable.
O Policia then, is a popular restaurant, slightly away from the touristy centre of Portugal’s capital but well worth the effort to find. Traditional but friendly and with great fish guaranteed.