Every small town has a spot where locals go to recover from an animated night of revelry. I think I may have found one of Newark's recovery spots. Usually, they're greasy joints, but in this case, ut's just a simple little Portuguese restaurant just off Ferry Street. The restaurant sits two-buildings up from the corner of Ferry and Prospect, but commands the entire expanse of the sidewalk with enough outdoor seating (presumably just seasonally) that probably doubles the restaurant's capacity. So, seating at one of these tables, after a hot walk under the sun, I drank a coke, looked through the menu and listened to Newark's version of Snooky and the gang and I received an earful of twisted slang, f-bombs and the usual banter young adults just in their twenties love to speak loudly about.
The menu looks great and is heavily based on seafood and fish. The grilled fish section got my attention immediately. The fish is cut "à posta" which is a steak, versus a filet. After whole fish, this is actually my preference. You get a tender juicy fish in the center, surrounded by crispy charred skin. At least that what it's supposed to be like - or what I was expecting anyway.
Sopa do Mar
You can almost predict all the appetizers any ethnic restaurant is going to have on the menu. The key is to figure who does what really well. I once had a terrific seafood soup in Newark, so I ordered one here at Sagres. It arrived looking Ok, but after the first spoonful, it struck me that the croutons on top where store-bought salad croutons that had gone a little stale. I spooned around them and concentrated on the soup. It's base was a vegetable purée and added to is was some chopped shrimp. It was edible, but under whelming.
Dourada à Posta
So, I distracted myself with by reading the news on my iPhone as Snooky told the world how wasted she got last night. Though the view is nothing but an average American street, there just enough quiet, sunlight and shade to relax in between Snooky's rants.
The meal arrives. I had ordered the tile fish, which I'm used to being quite a large steak, but there were three small steaks on the plate, which was fine. They looked good and plumb. I squeezed some lemon over everything and started. I noticed immediately that the skin on the fish was not crispy, though the center of the fish seemed to be seared really well. In fact, the skin was really wet and soft. It was as if the fish was first poached, then grilled. Aside form the skin, it was cooked well, though, with the flesh just starting to flake into juicy clumps. But it was lacking that grilled flavor that makes grilled fish - grilled fish. In fact, it was a little bland and most of the flavor came from the charred bits of onion that stuck to the center of the fish. I actually enjoyed the julienned carrots more! If should have drizzled some olive oil and vinegar over my fish in an attempt to make it interesting, but it was hot and I just wanted to split. Which I did a several minutes later after paying my bill.
44 Prospect Street
Newark NJ 07105