Boilers. That's a direct translation of the word Caldeiras. Perhaps it's reference to the caldeiras or hot springs in the parish of Furnas on the island of São Miguel. I don't know, but I do know that this Caldeiras is located in the Flint or the Flint Village section of Fall River. It's oddly situated amongst a U-Haul business, a Popeye's chicken joint, a number of old mills, strip malls and other architectural clutter. The building itself is more attractive than it's surroundings, and once inside your mind is miles away, anyway.
So, it was a slow Friday night - my bet is that Saturdays and Sundays are more popular for dining out in Fall River. Inside we found a roomy and nicely-appointed dining room with well-spaced tables and some booths along one of the walls. The lighting was soft and low, generally my preference, and outside of a small birthday party in the adjacent private room, there was scarcely a sound.
Amêijoas à Açoriana and Lulas Fritas
The menu is short and concise, and concentrates on typical Portuguese restaurant fair. In short time, we would find out that this strategy pays off very well at Caldeiras. We ordered two appetizer, the Lulas Fritas (calamari) and the Amêijoas à Açoriana (little neck clams with chouriço in broth. Calamari is usually hit or miss with me, depending on how greasy they get. At Caldeiras, I was surprised at how light and crispy they were. The accompaniment of hot pepper rings is expected, but the Mozambique dipping sauce was a pretty interesting addition and helped make this dish a good choice. But the Amêijoas (little necks clams) were an even better choice. The clams were fresh, which you can tell by their plumpness and the fresh briny taste of the bellies. Also - THANKFULLY- the clams had been left in water for some time to allow them to expel any sand they may have had. A chomp on a grain of sand can really do some damage and there are few things that sound as bad as that crunch. But these clams were fresh, clean and delicious with some credit going to the flavorful broth in which they were served, along with chunks of chouriço. Really, really good. Reach for the bread!
Bife à casa
We brought our appetites and we were ready to accommodate them. Bife à Casa is a standard that usually hits the spot and rarely fails. The version at Caldeiras was especially good because of the better cut of meat they use, the willingness to cook exactly to my order (blood rare) and the garlic "brown" sauce that mixed so wonderfully with the roasted potatoes and rice. It's true that, tradionally, Portuguese steaks are of cheaper, tougher cuts of meat that are pound to tenderize them. this is largely due to the historically high costs of the better cuts. Some restaurants in Fall River stick to the older style and I love them for that. But some, like Caldeiras, have upgraded to cuts of meat that is naturally more tender and flavorful - and that's great, too! And mine was just that - fork tender and full of flavor. I was happy with each bite.
Lombinhos na Brasa
The pork is another great choice. It's served in thin slices with gorgeous grill marks that flavor and char the meat. The accompaniment was the usual side Portuguese double starches - potatoes (fries) and rice. The fries were a little on the greasy side, but certainly not enough to detract from the rest of the meal. Here again, the meat was fork tender and delicious.
I had never dined at Caldeiras and was apprehensive, considering its location far from most of the other Portuguese restaurants, but Caldeiras certainly deserves to be mentioned with the best of those others. The environment inside was pleasant and comfortable. The service, though on a slow night, was friendly, courteous, timely and attentive. Most of our selections were based on our server's recommendations and they were right on. The food was served hot, and very attractive in appearance upon arriving at the table. So, whatever or where ever Caldeiras is, this restaurant has made the decision to concentrate on a few dishes a
990 Pleasant Street
Fall River MA