2016-03-30 / Restaurant of the Week


Since 1981, O Lavrador has been serving the cuisine of Portugal and Spain with a wide variety of dishes for every taste. “O Lavrador” means “the farmer” and indeed this charming gem of a restaurant in Jamaica resembles a rustic farmhouse, complete with stone arches, lots of wood, tile floors, tables dressed in starched, white linens topped with fresh flowers. The cozy dining room was nearly full on a recent weeknight with 3 large groups convened to celebrate birthdays and other springtime events. One table of 22 was easily accommodated and served in style while a nearby group of 12 colleagues shared a hearty meal together. Even with the groups, the vibe is sedate and relaxed, as the live guitar soloist fills the air with bossa nova sounds from Brazil Monday to Wednesday evenings. There were couples and small groups dining together as well, and they all come for the classic flavors of Portuguese cuisine, along with fabulous wine, beer and cocktails.

The Ferreira / Henriques Families, led by Edgar, Manuela and Mario, welcome all of their guests to this home away from home. The adjacent bar offers a lively scene and it is from here that the house sangria is mixed up, brimming with fruit and spirits. Portugal is famous for fabulous wines including vinho verde, or ‘green wine,’ which is a young wine characterized by its effervescence and light, fruity flavor. Try a caiprinha or a Portuguese beer or one of the red wines on the list.

Our friendly server Caitlin described the night’s specials which included a whole red snapper served table side, barbecued veal chop, fried filet of whiting, or the hefty T-bone which my companion ordered. It was cooked to perfection and served with roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables. We started with the special grilled calamari appetizer, tender and succulent, prepared with a head of crispy garlic cloves and served with warm bread to soak up all the juices. The chef makes his own chouriço pork sausage which is incredibly delicious, thanks to its smoky, lean flavor. It is carefully set ablaze tableside, using spirits, to render the skin crispy and crunchy, while the meat inside is tender and very flavorful ($15). A great idea is to share the Iberian platter for 2 (or 3) people with a generous helping of shrimp in garlic and wine sauce, fried calamari, and Portuguese sausage along with a bottle of wine. Sopa de mariscos is a seafood soup replete with shrimp, crab, and clams in a creamy base ($9).

O Lavrador does an equally good job with meats as well as poultry and seafood so there’s something for everyone. Traditional dishes include frango a Lavrador; tender chicken cutlets with tomato, shrimp and rice, and Mariscada Salsa Verde; a feast of lobster, calamari, scallops, clams and mussels swimming in a light, creamy, fragrant parsley sauce ($24). The same seafood mélange can be prepared in a spicy tomato sauce to be poured over a mound of linguine. Bacalhau or codfish is a national dish and this flaky fish is made in a number of ways such as bacalhau assado, grilled with potatoes, onions and tomatoes, or stewed with clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari.

My baby lamb chops were perfectly grilled to a rosy finish with a fragrant rosemary sauce, accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes, piped into rosette shapes next to freshly sautéed vegetables ($21). Carne de Porco a Alentejana combines tender pork tenderloins with sweet clams in a rich, brown sauce that is just delicious. Keep it simple with grilled skirt steak, filet mignon with mushroom sauce, or a classic veal scalloppine. You’ll even find some vegetarian options on the menu.

Even the desserts are classic here with flaming cherries jubilee, strawberries with fresh whipped cream, poached pears in Port wine, or warm chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream. You must order a glass of Port to end your meal and linger over it while the music continues to soothe you.

O Lavrador is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The lunch special can’t be beat at just $12 for one of their tempting entrées and either the soup of the day or salad. O Lavrador is the ideal place for your family party or business function with menus for everyone and all the details taken care of. Best of all, the location is convenient to all, just off the Van Wyck Expwy AND their own parking lot.

Any meal at O Lavrador is memorable, whether it’s a romantic dinner for two, a small gathering of family or friends, or a party for 40, O Lavrador caters to you with the unique and delicious flavors from the Iberian Peninsula, served with love and pride in a warm and welcoming setting. Obrigada y bom apetite!

138-40 101 Avenue  Jamaica


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