A comet called Noélia

Noélia composit

“One good thing about Winter is that it is easier to dine at Noélia” our Algarve friends told us. “In the Summer it is impossible to get in.” Curious, we made reservations a week in advance.

As soon as we sat down in this seaside restaurant in the village of Cabanas, we knew we were in for something special. There was a festive atmosphere and the aromas of the sea filled the air.

The restaurant is noisy but our waiter was a mind reader who guessed what we wanted without the need for much verbal communication. And so a perfectly chilled bottle of sparkling wine arrived, followed by a plate of steamed langoustines. “They were caught this morning” the waiter told us. “I know you’ll like them.” We were so impressed by the crustaceans’ exquisite taste that we vowed never to eat frozen seafood again.

Our main dish was rice with lemon, corvina, and conquilhas, small cockles that only exist in the Algarve. We appreciated in silence the sublime combination of flavors. A Dom Rodrigo, a sweet combination of fios de ovos (egg threads) and almonds, rounded the meal.

Noélia, the chef, seemed to be everywhere: cooking, talking to regulars, giving instructions to the staff, making final adjustments to the plates before they were brought out. She is a culinary comet that brightens everything she touches.

Suddenly, she arrived at our table and asked: “did you like the food?” “We loved it,” we replied. “But we’re sorry we’re too full to try other dishes.” “Next time order oyster risotto and favas with cuttle fish,” she said. “I get up at 6:00 am to make sure I buy the best oysters in Algarve.” And she was gone as quickly as she had arrived.

Outside, the moon was painting the sea with its silver light. But no one in the restaurant paid any attention. The moon cannot compete with a comet called Noélia.

The Restaurante Noélia & Jerónimo is located in the village of Cabanas near Tavira, Algarve at Rua da Fortaleza, Edifício Cabanas-Mar, Loja 6, tel, 281370649. Reservations are a must.


26 thoughts on “A comet called Noélia

  1. Sound amazing. I only live up the road. Restaurants in Cabanas can be hit and miss. Will definitely be making that reservation. Thank you for the tip. Sarah

    1. Trying to make a booking, but cannot get them to answer the phone! Do you know if they have email address, as I cannot find one.
      Any help would be greatly appreciated

      1. HI Pam, sorry but they do not use email. The restaurant is incredibly busy so you just have to keep trying. Another strategy is to show up early and give your name. You can take a stroll on the beach while you wait. The food is delicious; it is worth the wait!

  2. What a wonderful pieceof writing.Never was a truer a word spoken.She is our favourite Algarvian chef.

  3. A great place to eat! I am a regular for 15 years. I go on propose from Lisbon to eat at Noélia several times a year.

  4. That was a mouth-watering post! While I have not yet been to Portugal, I do agree that life near the sea is as good as it gets. I’m on the Mediterranean and can’t imagine a place I would rather be. Perhaps I shall make it down there one day?

      1. It is on the list, France is not that far and some friends may be moving there so your’s is the second invitation. Thank you!

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