Barcelos

Barcelos is baffling at every turn. Its Sheikh Zayed Road location, tagged onto the side of the Al Sama Tower, is in no way conducive to foot traffic. Then again, it’s not particularly conducive to any kind of traffic, since getting there involves navigating Defence Roundabout and sidling off the main road towards an innocuous-looking building recognisable only by a logo similar to Nando’s. Unless you happen to be residing in the Monarch Hotel or the Fairmont, you have to make a concerted effort to go to Barcelos. And let’s make it clear from the offset: Barcelos is not a destination restaurant by any stretch of the imagination. As with its logo, the venue’s interior and menu bear more than a vague resemblance to Nando’s – light wood and dark brown upholstery dominate, while the dishes are decidedly poultry-themed. I’ll have to admit that the whole atmosphere was rather odd – it was as if I’d walked into a parallel universe where everything was familiar, though not quite as it should be. The service certainly wasn’t as it should be. Though the waitresses were lovely and more than happy to explain the various strengths of the peri-peri sauces on our table, we were left waiting 20 minutes for our order of grilled chicken and a beef skewer. Desperate, I asked if the bowl of fries that came with the meal could be served as a starter. While the waitress happily obliged, my request resulted in a paltry portion that did nothing for my appetite. Our main courses eventually arrived in the form an amply proportioned half chicken and a skewer of glistening beef cuts hanging vertically over a mound of fluorescent yellow rice. Certainly not much thought had been given to presentation, though the chicken proved surprisingly tasty – soft and well seasoned. The beef, however, was exhaustingly tough and virtually impossible to finish (I persevered through greed rather than enjoyment). The meal’s only chance at redemption lay with dessert, though it soon became clear that two dollops of slushy ice cream, and a black forest gateau that tasted like it was straight from the packet, didn’t have what it would have taken to salvage an underwhelming meal. Even fans of Nando’s would be disappointed – which says a lot about the restaurant. The bill (for two) 1x Beef espetada Dhs65 1x grilled chicken meal Dhs51 1x Grilled vegetables Dhs16 1x Regular fries Dhs8 1x Black forest cake Dhs18 1x Chocolate ice cream Dhs18 Total (excluding service) Dhs176

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