Tapas bar review – Copacabanas, Cabanas

Cabanas De Tavira - by night

This bar, which serves light meals and tapas is a recent addition to the newly renovated sea front in Cabanas, run by the people behind the Meeting Room night club in Tavira. The Cabanas-based play-on-words name is, I guess, either cheesy or “post-ironic” depending on how you look at it….

Before I proceed with the review I would point out that we visited in the peak of the August tourist season and very soon after the place had opened – certain things I will criticise could very well be put down to teething problems and we certainly recognised enough good about the place to warrant a second-chance return visit.

The bar had trendy décor which made us think of a London cocktail bar and laid-back tunes to match – a very welcome change from the “101 Drunken Holiday Classics” nonsense

Cabanas De Tavira - by night

Cabanas De Tavira – by night

blasting out of a lot of Algarve bars.

On the night we visited, it seemed to us that the bar was rather shocked by how many people had chosen to eat from their tapas menu and it was clear to everyone that the staff and kitchen were struggling to keep up.

The staff seemed to us to be great bar staff with no experience of food service – numerous orders were getting lost and mixed up. There were a lot of disgruntled people around and we particularly felt for a table next to us who were kept waiting well over an hour for their food and eventually let their children go next door for pizza.

The poor service was a shame as the food was really quite special. The whole crab was beautifully fresh and well-presented and the brown meat / mayonnaise combination served in the main shell was as tasty as any I have tried. It was also half the price I recently paid in Lisbon. It was a shame the hammer and crab-tools didn’t arrive until we had nearly finished struggling through with a knife and fork!

The fried prawns (ordered in place of the tempura prawns which were out of stock), were absolutely huge, and the portion very big. Again these were surprisingly cheap – half the price that other places in Cabanas are charging for smaller, less tasty prawns. The sardine bruschetta were delicious and made with fresh sardine fillets rather than the tinned ones I expected to see.

A theme started to emerge: the portions we were getting were far in excess of what we would consider to be tapas, and the prices far lower than we would expect. No bad thing, but not quite right.

As I said at the start of the review, due to the infancy of this place, there are sure to be teething problems and the components of the place are spot on – just what Cabanas needs to bridge the gap between touristy bars and traditional “snack bar” establishments.

The chef clearly has flair, the environment is pleasant and the food menu a welcome change from the other almost identical restaurant menus. I am fairly confident that once some tweaks have been made – especially to prices and portion sizes – this will be somewhere we continue to visit.

To finish off I should mention that if you venture up two flights of stairs at Copacabanas there is a tiny roof terrace with sofas and great views – nothing is made of it, so you could easily not realise it was there. It is a great place to enjoy a cocktail – and the morangoskas we tried here were extremely good…..don’t tell too many people 😉