Preppy dining on the water: Cascais, Portugal’s Maria Pia Seafood Lounge

If you’ve ever gone sailing on the ocean or know people who do — and I do! — you understand the lifestyle. After a long, sunny day on the water, seeing seafood up close, you want to clean up, change into something comfy and classy, and eat simple, finest quality ocean fare. An unpretentious, gracious preppy restaurant fits the bill. Sharing the same pier and access elevator as Cascais Naval Club, Portugal’s Maria Pia Seafood Lounge should feel like the perfect place for we preppies! I was happy to be hosted to experience it.

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They divide the different parts of their menu into sections: “Arriving at the Beach”, “Swimming in the Sea”, “Diving In”, “Splashing in the Waves”, “Walking on the Sand”, “Basking in the Sun”.

This may sound funny, but I really loved the couvert! Their bread service was olive bread with local olive oil, the creamy Portuguese butter presented plain, with beets and with seaweed. That seaweed butter has umami and is totally addictive.

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If you’re looking for a great wine pairing with Portugal’s simply prepared fresh seafood, you can’t improve upon their little-known “Vinhos Verdes” (green wines). They have a tightly edited selection of wines by the glass and I tried the Joao Portugal Ramos Loureiro. It’s tangy!

I had heard a great deal about Portugal’s oysters, but hadn’t sampled them. They’re plump with very deep cups! Having had other European side of the Atlantic Ocean raw oysters — or as they call them, au naturale — I know they tend to be on the meaty, rather than briny side. These are powerfully meaty! You could definitely make a meal of these and be satisfied, despite food philosopher Brillat-Savarin’s feelings on the subject. They serve them unadorned, with just lemon quarters.

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For a main course, I had Robalo a Bulhao Pato which was sea bass with clams, lemon and coriander. The delicate fish, which was recommended by the server, had a light broth sauce and super crispy skin. All of the natural flavors shone through.

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Their sides are very, very simple — they won’t distract from your entree.

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Dessert was a chocolately meringue concoction with buttery crumbs on top.

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