Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dining Out Paleo-Style {Liège, Belgium - Les Caves du Portugal}

The hubster and I don't eat out very often. We usually find we can recreate the meals ourselves at home (for a fraction of the cost) and have them taste just as good (or, sometimes, even better!). When we do go out to eat, we always try to choose restaurants that are a bit different than our traditional Belgo-Americano cuisine.

After trying many restaurants in our nearby vicinity, we have settled on a couple favorites that we keep going back to.

Photos de Les Caves du Portugal, Liège
picture provided by TripAdvisor
One of them is called Les Caves du Portugal. This also happens to be a restaurant my husband's grandparents love, and we find ourselves invited to join their table every so often (they eat there nearly every Sunday, sometimes changing things up with another favorite restaurant of theirs - and if they "miss" a Sunday, you can be sure to find them there during the week).

Everyone was worried about what I would eat at restaurants when I first started finding out about my food allergies and intolerances, but I was confident I would find something to please both my palate and my stomach.

Luckily for me, Les Caves du Portugal has a menu full of paleo-friendly options! All you have to do is ask if you need to make a change to something, and they are more than willing to adjust things for you. (I find this is true of most, if not all, restaurants).

There are always green and black olives waiting for you at the table, so you can munch on something while choosing your dish. They are house-marinated as well, and oh so delicious! Sometimes, if they're really busy and your food takes a long time to get to you, they'll offer a small plate of dry-cured Italian-style ham. I have seen the package for this ham, and one of the ingredients is dextrose, so you can make your own call there. I usually eat a small slice or two and savor the taste while the others load up their slices of baguette with slices of ham and stuff their faces :P

oh so yummy Venus clams
Pépé, my husband's wonderful grandfather, almost always orders a small dish of Venus clams for everyone to share before the meal. The sauce is white wine and olive oil with garlic and herbs. I just grab my fair share of clams and of the sauce to slurp up plain before anyone has a chance to dip a piece of bread into the dish. (Also, I'm extremely sensitive to white wine and one glass makes my joints swell up painfully - but I tolerate this sauce with no problems whatsoever. Experiment with things to see how you react.)

grilled sardines as seen on Instagram
follow me @bepaleoandthrive
One of my favorite meals to eat there is the plate of grilled sardines. I ask for two servings of salad, hold the fries, but if you tolerate white potatoes you could even keep the fries.

The salad dressing is delicious, and changes slightly each time which probably means it's actually homemade (rare in restaurants!). I asked once and they said it was a mix of oils, vinegars and mayonnaise, seasoned with salt and pepper. Works for me! (Yes, the mayo is probably made with rancid vegetable oil, but we can't always be "paleo perfect". It doesn't make me sick and I enjoy the meals thoroughly each time I eat there, so it's a win in my book.)

my extra side salad :)
My "dessert" is always a black coffee. I just give my little cookie or chocolate to the hubster (who is always more than happy to gobble it up for me). Sometimes they serve us small shots of a delicious Portuguese liquor called Bierao - sometimes I drink it, but it's always a bad idea (for me and my sensitive stomach). If you tolerate liquors well, this is a must-taste.

And besides great food, the service is wonderful as well. It's family owned and operated, and everyone is quick to smile as you walk in the door. The wait is a bit long on Sundays, their busiest day, but even then it's not exaggerated. If you're a sports fan, they usually have a soccer match (football for the non-Americans) going on the big screen. You can even call and reserve for large groups, if you'd like to have a birthday dinner or work function there.

The prices are very democratic as well. During the week, they have the menu du jour at 9€50, and besides that the dishes run you about 10-15€. The hubster and I usually eat there for less than 40€. They also have great group deals and special occasion menus that are well worth it.

pork & clams as seen on Instagram
follow me @bepaleoandthrive
And there's more than just sardines for the paleoist to eat - many of the dishes require just subbing the fries for more salad! If you tolerate white potatoes and butter, the options are even greater!

Some other favorites of mine are the grilled chicken, the Brazilian steaks (a must try!!), and the pork and clams (heavy on the piri-piri!). 

For those who tolerate dairy, the scampi kebab as well as the fish kebab dishes are also delicious.

If you ever find yourself in Liège, Belgium, and you feel like a little Portuguese cuisine, Les Caves du Portugal is a must try!

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