Alma Bar and Kitchen
66 Stanley St
Darlinghurst, Sydney

Top Portuguese food in the heart of Sydney - yes please we both say! Due to our passion for Portuguese food we're actually visiting Lisbon in a month as part of our European food odyssey. It was a must on our itinerary. However, we were given an early taste of what to expect with the great Portuguese food available right in the heart of Sydney at Alma. It's deceptively big too - with a quaint area at street level and another beautifully decorated larger level upstairs. We sat on the upper level looking out over Darlinghurst and watching the movement on Stanley Street below us. Very pleasant.

Owners Michelle and Tania have put a lot of time and effort into Alma, and it shows. The decor, wine list and food is all so very appealing and the service is effortlessly efficient and very friendly from start to finish.

We of course started our food journey for the night with a cocktail as we readied ourselves for the degustation with matching wines that lay ahead. In fact we started with drinks and a show as our mixologist Osh arrived at the table and proceeded to ignite an orange peel to then use in Sirs rum based creation - that he eagerly consumed. Mlady had a lemony creation that was also delicious and very refreshing. Our advice, just give Osh some idea of what you like and leave the rest to him! 

Aren't olives a great start to any meal! They're perfect just to nibble on, sip and drink (or two) and trawl through the menu of the restaurant you're dining in? The house marinated olives here at Alma certainly lived up to expectations. We used the nibble time to look at the menu to anticipate what was to come and to chat with resident sommelier Vincenzo about our wine tastes so he could weave his magic with matching wines.

Seriously - can you set out to make a dish any prettier??? This arrived at our table and we just stared at it - so beautiful - almost to pretty to touch it - almost! It was braised lobster, tapioca, goats cheese and cauliflower - but this simplistic description somewhat hides the true depth of this delicate and delicious dish. It was spectacular in appearance and taste! This was matched with a lovely Portuguese Muralhas de Moncao Rose Vinho Verde from the far north for Mlady and a tasty Crasto Douro 2011 for Sir.  


Bacalhau (codfish) - famous for its ability to be cooked in over 1,000 ways, how its cooked on any given day is always the chefs choice .....  As you may know, bacalhau is almost a staple of Portugal and its neighbour Spain. It's such a traditional food there that it's not a surprise to see it on the menu - it would be a surprise not to! This was such a tasty version too, this time matched with a red for Mlady that was chilled to keep the acidity down and a Southern white for Sir.

Our next dish was again plated beautifully - and pork belly is always just so popular with Sir anyway!

It was described simply as crispy pork belly, frangelico, hazelnut, veggies.

Again it was pretty with a virtual palette of colours on the plate and all so tasty all in one - and the pork belly being cooked for 7 hours won Sir over instantly!
Does the thought of biting into tongue (not your own) make you nervous? Well this is not like any tongue you've ever bitten before - it's so much tastier! The beef tongue steak was amazingly tender and full with flavour. It's thrice cooked cow tongue, lentils and crispy sweet potato - and many may steer away - which is their loss. This whole dish was truly delicious and matched with an aerated 2010 Quinta Dos Carvalhais Colheita red for Mlady and a 2012 Tons de Duorum from the Douro Valley.

The culinary adventure continued with pumpkin for dessert - yes pumpkin! The Bolo de Abobora is a textured pumpkin cake that is again not what you would expect. First things first, yes it is sweet - not savoury! Secondly, the pumpkin does not overpower the dish. Thirdly, it is a lovely dessert - simple as that!

A mint and brandy cocktail for Mlady and then some moscato as our dessert wine capped off a memorable food and wine journey.

Alma Bar and Kitchen is such a charming place.

The street appeal of the place grabs you straight away, but it gets even better once inside. Then there's the food of Chef Ricardo - it's a journey you'll want to take! Of course, Vincenzo will then beautifully match wines for you and there's the cocktails from Osh as well.

It has it all and is deservedly gaining a great reputation as a hidden treasure.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Alma Bar and Kitchen. Special thanks to owners Michelle and Tania for inviting us and making us even happier that we're visiting Portugal soon! A big thanks also to Ricardo for his great food, Vincenzo for his excellent wine pairing and Osh for the lovely cocktails.

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