We'd heard a rumour that the Sydney Portuguese Community Club was well worth a look, so it was off to a back alley of Marrickville, under the goods line, and across two small fields full of mad-keen soccer playing lads (with excellent ball-skills), down through a hall, and to the first (unlabelled) door on the left. 'Perversely ambient' is how I would describe the dining room, with photos of Portuguese folk in cultural dress, wood art, and bug zappers. The architecture reminded me of a dining room on a train, with the sloping edges of the roof. Somehow though the decor added to the feeling that you were getting a really authentic Portuguese experience.
Our meal started with a big bowl of tiny, tasty olives and a never-ending complimentary bread basket with cornbread, white rolls, and endless butter. (And in these days of having to ask for butter at sandwich bars, to me getting lots of butter with a bread basket is a total delight.) We decided to drink the house Sangria ($13 / 1L jug) which had a wide variety of fruits in it, including kiwi fruit, strawberries, green grapes, orange, watermelon and apple. The complex fruit mix changed the taste slightly from the much more alcoholic tasting Sangrias we were used to, but the almost cidery edge complimented the food well.
We decided upon a Chef's Entree Platter to share ($16) to sample a wide range of dishes. The stuffed squid was particularly tasty, and I was very happy to finally try the salted cod (bacalhau), presented in the form of cod rissoles. They were easy to eat, and went particularly well with the juicy, flavourful capsicum (which came in long, long strands).
For mains, my dining companion couldn't go past the Marinated Pork Cubes with Potatoes & Vongole Clams ($18). This dish was quite a balanced meal in itself - and a huge serve! The pickled vegetables on top provided a nice break from the intensely flavoured pork. The small olives we had enjoyed upon arrival also featured as cooked olives in the dish, and underneath the mound of cubed potatoes and pig, there were delicately flavoured vongole clams.
I couldn't go past the Prawns in Chilli Cooked in African Style ($22) and I wasn't disappointed with the huge platter of giant crustaceans that appeared before me dressed in a tasty chilli oil with garlic and a wedge of lemon that enhanced the flavour even more. I struggled to finish them, and was gently bullied by our waiter. The service, incidentally, was great. Our waiter answered all my menu questions without rancour or (much) ridicule. We were the only non-Portuguese diners at the time, and most of the menu was translated, but a few dishes were left as self-evident... except to a non-Portuguese speaker. And I wanted to understand everything!
They offer a big paella for four people for $100, and a lobster for two for $80, plus a whole lot of interesting dishes that we didn't sample, including a drunken lamb dish, and a chicken and chorizo clay pot. I think we might have to return!
Sydney Portuguese Community Club
100 Marrickville Rd
Marrickville NSW 2204
Ph: (02) 9550 6344