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The building was once a prison from the 16th century onwards and the person who ever designed the interior has made good use of the gratings and bars at the windows. In fact, the gratings have been used for chair backs. However, I am quite sure that the prisoners locked in their cells did not have the pleasure of looking at the very cheerful décor painted in colours of red, orange and white.
A little more than prison gruel served here CQ Restaurant in the town of Estremoz in the Alentejo region of Portugal is a fascinating environment to eat in if not a little strange.
Furniture is black and of minimalist design with flashes of red in the form of glasses and table mats. Plates are also modern, very similar to the plates served in Sushi bars, rectangular and plain white. The food served here at the CQ Restaurant goes back to tradition and is authentic Alentejo cuisine. On the menu you can find hearty soups like fish soup and gazpacho. Toasted sheep’s cheese is very popular and is delicious with a sprinkling of fresh oregano on the top. Mushrooms marinated in olive oil and white wine with a touch of coriander go down a treat as do the enchidos whether they be hot or cold. Without any doubt porco preto, the black pig from the region that is descended from a wild boar and left to run free, eating fallen acorns, before being slaughtered, is always on the menu. The meat has a distinctive flavour and is amazingly delicious. Lamb and chicken are old favourites too. Desserts are plentiful and there will be a good selection of fresh fruit on offer as cherries, apples and plums as well as citrus fruits are grown here. Look out for the tecolameco pudding a very sweet orange and almond cake.
The wine list is good and reasonably priced promoting wines of the area which are generally very fruity and not too acidic.
After a meal nip upstairs to the bar for a coffee or a bica (small strong coffee) and a brandy.. This area used to be the women’s jail and the jailer’s apartment. Now it has been transformed by the colour red making the atmosphere yet again, very modern and contemporary.