A Portuguese “institution” in Saint-Etienne

A Portuguese “institution” in Saint-Etienne

Do not search for Porto in the Michelin Guide, you will not find it! However, the entire city of Saint-Etienne is rushing there. Business leaders, workers, doctors, footballers and even ministers: they all go to Porto. Not for decoration, that’s for sure. But as for the atmosphere. Especially regarding what’s on the plate… The discovery on site, before the final Rugby World Cup match in Saint-Etienne, between Australia and Portugal, of course.

Frederick Baylas
Today at 06:00 | Updated today at 08:29

Don’t look for Porto in the Michelin Guide, you won’t find it. This small restaurant in the Terrenoire district of Saint-Étienne gained its reputation through word of mouth and nothing else. It’s not just its facade that’s likely to catch the eye either! And unless you get lost, there is little chance of encountering this institution whose reputation has been established for so long…

Simplicity in its purest form…

Inside, no fuss…simplicity in its purest form. No flashy decor. A poster of the football team hanging on the wall. From Porto of course. “Great team.” Behind the bar, among the bottles of aperitif, is the Rooster of Barcelos and especially the statue of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of Portuguese merchants. Andrea is the one who welcomes us.

Andrea was a bit overwhelmed that morning… She had been the one running the family business, with her sister-in-law, Sylvie, working in the kitchen. A family of Portuguese origin has always lived in this neighborhood and has never denied its roots.

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on the contrary. Andrea and Sylvie have other things to do than chat… Opening up about the past, telling their story, a part of their life, this is not their habit. Here, we are initially conservative and reserved. Education question.

“It’s an institution, sir…”

So, we went to find those regular visitors in Porto who know the institution better than anyone else. “It’s an institution, sir,” a family friend tells us, leaning over the bar, and recalling with affection “Chico, the father, who was always at Charentaise. . . .”

He added: “But do not come on Friday, as it is crowded with people.” Because Friday is cod day! Home specialty. We came there just for that.

The fresh cod, which arrives every week directly from Portugal, is prepared in house, just like it is done back there in Porto. It is salted on site, cooked with hand-cut potatoes, and served with a little onion sauce. “Little Jesus is wearing velvet trousers,” delights Fernand, who invites himself into the conversation, with a touch of humour…

When ministers and representatives come to the table…

There is no way to reserve a table on Friday, because there are too many people. “First come, first served,” Andrea tells us. “But if you like octopus, come on a Tuesday and you will enjoy it,” adds Fernand, a culinary expert and lover of Portuguese cuisine.

Two dishes that make port a success alongside all other house specialties.

Business leaders, workers, doctors, artisans: everyone goes to Porto. When a Portuguese MP or minister comes to the Loire, he also stops in Porto for lunch. “You are well informed,” Andrea says modestly, without telling us that she has served as Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities in Europe, but also for several prominent Portuguese parliamentarians or more recently as Consul General of Portugal…

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We agree that it is not the most fashionable place in Saint-Etienne. But there is no politician who does not stop there for an election campaign… “Whether they are from the left, the right or the centre,” everyone goes to Porto, an observer of local politics tells us.

We tell you…

Sainte-Sigolène: Bar owner Le Lusitano is aware of the “luck” in being able to attend the match

There were large numbers in Saint Segolene, part of the Portuguese community will be present in the stands, in the Australia-Portugal match. A special moment, especially in the Le Lusitano bar, where the owner does not miss the different posters for anything.

A flag and scarf bearing the image of Portugal or France, the match schedule on display, a rugby ball placed in front of the window, a giant screen… without a doubt. Here, at Le Lusitano bar in Sainte-Sigolène, we live to the rhythm of the Rugby World Cup. The owner of the establishment, of Portuguese origin, does not miss a single match: “I am more of a footballer but I watch every match in this event,” with a soft spot for two teams: “Portugal and France.” The opportunity was too good to pass up, as he and some mates got tickets to the Australia-Portugal match at Geoffroy-Guichard. “I try as much as possible to go to Geoffroy-Guichard for big events. I was already there for the friendly match between France and Scotland on August 12. »

“I have already followed Portugal’s adventure during the 2007 World Cup.”

A great match coming up against a well-known team in world rugby, Australia. “Also in Portugal, rugby has an important position, but football has such a strong position that it was difficult to find many professional players.” However, the owner is a regular at Os Lobos matches: “I actually followed Portugal’s adventure during the World Cup 2007. It’s only their second participation, so it’s always a special moment, to be able to see them play at this level. “Not everyone has that opportunity.”

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Already present during Euro 2016

This enthusiasm for the Portuguese national team is not new. This native of the Iberian Peninsula actually watched Portugal’s coronation during the 2016 European Championship in France. “I went to the stadium for the first match (editor’s note: 1-1 between Portugal and Iceland in Joffre-Guichard) at competition time. We were broadcasting all the matches at that time in the pub, and the atmosphere was different. »

Nahim Idir ([email protected])

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