Madeleine v Paulo’s and Smithman

Last Friday we decided we would go out for a meal in Luz. I wanted to build in just a tiny bit of the Madeleine McCann story, so the question was where.

I have never eaten in the Dolphin, the restaurant used by the Smith’s on 3 May 2007. It serves South African cuisine, which I have never sampled. That would have been the port of choice, but for the fact we knew it was shut for its winter break.

I had a hankering for a half decent burger, so we headed to Chaplins. That restaurant is linked to the McCanns only by the scurrilous ‘scandal at Chaplins rumour’. Again, I have never eaten in there so it looked favourite for a meal and a bit of fun. The trouble was, when we got there, it too was closed for a winter break.

That same area now houses one Portuguese restaurant and two Indian restaurants, with only the most tenuous of connections to the Madeleine McCann case. The other restaurant there is the Fortaleza, which we’re not keen on, so it was back to thinking about a source for a burger.

So we headed to what was, in Madeleine’s day, the Cave Bar, and there is a connection in the case to that. The Cave Bar was superseded by Jake’s restaurant, which in turn was superseded by Rio’s, which in turn has been superseded by an American Diner type of restaurant. It specialises in burgers, ribs and chicken wings – that type of thing.

So we went there and had a look at the menu. The burgers of interest were in the €15 to €20 bracket, with sides such as chips and salad, starters etc. all costing extra. I have no problem in paying €20 for a main course. I object to paying €20, plus extras on top, for a burger. Inside, the restaurant was clearly open, but totally empty. We both decided to pass on the diner.

We were now racking our brains as to what was open in Luz. We concluded that my desire for a burger was not going to happen, so we discussed the alternatives. One of those was Paulo’s. My partner had gone out perhaps a week earlier to a meal at Paulo’s, so we knew it was not closed for winter. The rating given to me was ‘so-so’, but by now I was incredibly hungry, hence ‘so-so’ passed the test.

We headed for Paulo’s. The restaurant is on Rua 25 de Abril, and you cannot see it on Google Streetview, as it has changed hands a couple of times. In Madeleine’s day, it was the Lime Tree. Then it became Windies, serving West Indian food, but that does not appear to have been a success. The mom and pop team running Windies then rebranded it as an English pub, the Rose and Thistle, serving burgers and ribs etc. The Rose and Thistle is what you see on the current Google Streetview. That was quite short-lived. And fairly recently it became Paulo’s, essentially a Portuguese restaurant, with no burgers on the menu.

I had by now reached the stage of hunger that I did not care what was on the menu, nor did I check the price. I went straight through the front door of Paulo’s in a flash.

Paulo’s is surprisingly large inside, modern and well furnished, though I can’t recommend the chairs. There were other customers in it, and as the night went on quite a few more trooped in, so the mom and pop team running this seem to have cracked the secret of success. There is a story behind mom and pop, but it has nothing to do with Madeleine, so I’ll move on.

I would rate the food as good, and reasonably priced.

We had in total – 1 water, 1 coffee and 1 bottle of wine; 2 starters, one inexpensive, one towards the top end; 2 mains, both towards the top end of the price range. It was all good food. The total bill was €54, so we had a decent meal for a reasonable price. The service was excellent. So I can recommend Paulo’s should you pay Luz a visit.

Re Madeleine, something within Paulo’s was a bit of a thought jogger, but I can’t tell whether it applied in Madeleine’s day when the restaurant was the Lime Tree, so again I will move on.

Leaving Paulo’s, we had to go down Rua 25 de Abril to get to our car. In doing so, we passed the Smithman sighting location. Just in a few moments, I explained what is wrong with the ‘to the sea’ idea that sprang up so quickly and has dogged the case ever since. It is an awful lot easier to understand on-site.

So, I had a good meal in good company, and a bit of fun, but no burger.


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