What should we know about Alfama?
The latest in a recent wave of cafés popping up to cater to Dublin’s growing Portuguese-speaking population, Alfama recently opened in Dundrum. Named for Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, this casual spot’s blue and white tile exterior makes it looks like it might have been dropped right in from the Riviera Portuguesa.
What should we have?
There’s a decently diverse breakfast and lunch-style menu here, but realistically there’s only one show in town: the Francesinha. An infamously enormous sandwich of multiple meats bathed in cheese and a rich gravy that’s been called everything from “Portugal’s croque monsieur” to “a heart attack on a plate”.
It’s a more considered creation than the latter description makes it sound: a combo of ham, salami, steak and sausage may be a little over-the-top, but the six-hour reduction gravy (made, of course, from five different stocks) has a depth of flavour dynamic enough to hold the whole thing together. Bring an appetite - and ideally someone to share with - and you’ll be well able to endure it.
We tried the arroz de pato off the specials board too, a crusty-topped dish of baked rice and moist duck chunks topped with crisp bacon and fresh olives. It’s different but definitely less impressive - too dry and a touch dull to really linger in the mind.
Pasteis de nata shouldn't be passed on to finish - these ones are seriously good, with cinnamon and lemon-laced custard baked into beautifully crisp pastry layers. A distinctive taste and a perfect texture, and in an ever more crowded field for these little tarts, Alfama stands out as one of the best.
Why should I go?
Our server was keen to explain they were aiming to capture a sense of Portuguese hospitality, which involves being so well-fed that you can barely get up to leave, and only feel fit to head to bed. On that front we can confirm they deliver. Alfama is offering a genuine version of an iconic food experience, and it's a great addition to Dundrum.
39 Dundrum Road, Dublin 14