Tender cuts of pork, accompanied by appetising potato bites, olives, mussels on the shell and a squeeze of lemon, were served on a plate with traditional Portuguese markings. (picture above). This was my dinner at a Portuguese-themed restaurant/cafe in downtown Wollongong. The setting is casual yet traditional. They open early in the morning, and seem to focus on a breakfast and branch clientele, but also offer wholesome meals in the evenings that can be the basis of an informal family outing or just with a group of mates. Are the meals from Brazil or from the Iberian coast? There are no table cloths, just clean white tables with a drinks fridge but coffee is made fresh at the bar. Not too many tables at this one-shop place with Crust Pizza across the road and Lower Crown East a few doors to the west. the feel is also Mediterranean, with unique looking crystal or metal lamps and mirror borders. The decor is modern and yet a touch of ethnic.
My fellow diners at the table all had skewer swords served, each holding juicy and delicate pieces of various meat and prawn combinations. The marinade applied to each meaty morsel must be the secret to Portuguese cuisine. I last had an encounter with such dining swords in Petersham, which has a hub of a Portuguese background, like Warrawong south of Wollongong CBD. Generous amounts of chips (above) or wedges (below), according to your preference, accompanied carrot and green leaf salads, to balance each square plate with the meat choices - lamb, beef, chicken and more.
To finish up the meal, I tried the coffee which more than a few people raved about. My first sensation, on sipping the rather hot concoction, was that this was an aromatic blend. Then skimming the surface, I also found creamy layers. Finally the heavy dosage of bean thickness struck through, as a cappuccino should. The experience was slightly different from the Italian versions common in Australia these days.
My impressions of the Santa Fe Portuguese Restaurant at 64 Crown Street, Wollongong CBD (near junction with Corrimal Street) are:
Atmosphere: Informal and easy.
Taste: Better than my expectations.
People Engagement: Friendly parents in a family run atmosphere.
Best Time to Visit: Dinner
Fav Dish Experienced: Pork Grills
Would I Return?: Yes.