By Ray Gillman
As I write it’s August and Lagos is heaving! Luz and Burgau are also throbbing, friends report. A tap was turned on at the end of July and as the sun beats down here, it’s pouring out holidaymakers desperately seeking sustenance and refreshment!
How can restaurants and bar staff cope? They’ve endured twenty or more desperate months with virtually no custom and staff have been forced to relocate in search of work or leave the area to go back home to be supported by their families.
Well, they have more than just coped and it’s admirable.
At Barbosa in Lagos, we gratefully took our reserved table for eight on the interior terrace at seven o’clock. All the other tables inside and outside were already fully occupied. When we left after our great meal (house special of octopus risotto was memorable) crowds of attractive, happy families were still standing in line waiting to be seated. It was the same at virtually all the restaurants we passed as we strolled through the bustling centre to get postprandial ice creams.
Great for business – but how stressful to manage and execute well.
It was the same story a couple of nights later at Bar Linda, on Meia Praia. Part of our family group played a boisterous card game of ‘Exploding Kittens’ (!) between mouthfuls of calamari, frutos do mar, chicken nuggets and chips, while others sipped wine and ate amêijoas, garlic prawns, salads and two shared a succulent rib of tender, aged beef taken off the bone (at 22€, great value).
The owner couldn’t have been more helpful and solicitous: “Just let us know if you’d like the music turned down”, “If you find the cooling too aggressive we’ll adjust it for you”. Again the place was full of happy people inside and out. The owner apologised for being short-staffed but you really couldn’t tell: the food came out exactly when wanted, perfectly cooked. I knocked over a glass of wine to add to the clamour and inconvenience for the staff but they took it, graciously, in their stride, telling me “Accidents happen”.
So I’d like to give a ‘shout-out’ for all the Algarve’s Hospitality Heroes who have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and got right on with the show!