In Largo do Ouro, next to the River Douro, silence reigned on a Monday morning. Home to master fishermen and architects, for many years, few people visited the square. It hasn’t always had the best reputation, however, thankfully, things have changed. That said, those who live and work there are the same, but now many from outside acknowledge its value. Tourists love to see the neighbourhood life and authentic residents; hoping to bump into Siza Viera or Souto Moura in the streets. Largo do Ouro is acquiring a new perspective and it’s worth seeing the things that are now being done there.
O Antigo Carteiro is one of the projects that was born and lives in “Porto’s loveliest square”, in the words of the owner, Hélder Sousa. After years as a neighbour and regular customer, he decided to take over and keep the business going. The place is virtually unchanged and, with the help of the young chef Rui Oliveira, the food’s identity has been respected and maintained.
The small restaurant, which hosts up to 50 people at a time in the summer, operates at each season’s pace with the motto, “From nose to tail”. Memories and ingredients are a key part of the experience. Whenever possible, the restaurant uses seasonal produce and knows all the suppliers it works with. Provenance and respect for produce are crucial and each dish is a tribute to traditional Portuguese fare and its ingredients.
At Antigo Carteiro we were welcomed as old friends, discovering the project’s history and concept as we sat at a table outside the restaurant. The conservation was illuminating but the two dishes we tried (cow tongue and ox tail) were the best example of what is served there. Boasting O Antigo Carteiro’s signature, the two traditional recipes were simply prepared but bursting with intense and familiar flavours. Nor can we forget to mention the pudim
(one of the best we’ve ever tried), whose origin remains a secret. The Verdelho and 2015 Defesa red brought the Alentejo north, in a happy meeting.
We were far away, but, in Largo do Ouro, we couldn’t have felt more at home.