Friday, December 08, 2006

Bar Estrela

As promised, "Eat your way around the world in London" alighted in Stockwell on Wednesday night intent on mingling with the Portuguese while Manchester United entertained Benfica, and Arsenal took on Porto.

We were delighted to be joined by Neil - who runs as a side project - for the second week in a row, and settled on Bar Estrela as a venue. This hub of London's Portuguese community consists of a bar/cafe on the ground floor and a more formal restaurant on the first.

We arrived just before seven, to promising football auguries; each TV in the place was tuned to a native Portuguese feed rather than the bog-standard Sky Sports, and each bore a handwritten label indicating if it would be showing the Porto or Benfica game later in the evening.

We got just about the last remaining berth in the restaurant upstairs, and took our places with the profit burglar - crafty to the last - claiming the only seat on the table with a view of a cathode ray tube.

To start, I chose the dressed crab from the specials menu, Paul got calamari, and Neil picked sardines, but when this extravaganza of fruits de la mere arrived we democratically (and fuelled by the excellent house red) decided to share. These seafood starters alone (plus good bread and olives) amounted to one of the best meals that I have had this year, but we still ploughed on to mains.

During the intercourse (phnaar phnaar!) interregnum Benfica's Marcos Nelson drilled in a stunner from 25 yards to put the Portuguese one up against United and the clientele of Estrela's restaurant exploded with extravagant delight.

Time passed and I chowed down to lobster and spaghetti, Neil to pork and clams, and Paul to pork and peppers.

"Guess what just happened?", said Paul; the football had kicked off again and we were early in the second half.

"Dunno", I replied.

"Man U just equalized", he said. There hadn't been, as far as I could tell, even a twinge of reaction from the Benfica fans who had been dancing on the ceiling when their team scored earlier.

Twice more there was nary a twinge when Utd when two one, and then three one up to carry the day.

We finished - at Neil's recommendation - on white port, then staggered homewards.

Henceforth Estrela shall be where I watch any and all football with a Portuguese dimension.

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