Vau Steakhouse is a cut above
October 12, 2023 | Text Beatriz Maio | Photos Charlotte Cockayne/Open Media Group
Be it for the sea view, the quality food or the intimate and comfortable atmosphere, there are plenty of reasons to visit Vau Steakhouse, right next to Portimão’s Vau beach.
A true family business, where everyone helps in the most diverse areas, from the kitchen and customer service to the decoration.
This restaurant is the result of Vítor Teixeira desires’ who, together with his brother Francisco, known as Chico, decided to take a risk and open an unrivalled establishment that makes so many customers happy. Not only is it a place where you can have a meal or a cocktail with live music nights but also a space where weddings, baptisms and sunset parties are held.
The menu is diverse, perfect for both meat and seafood lovers. “We decided to have a varied choice of dishes on the menu, it would be unthinkable to be by the beach and not serve fish or seafood,” Vítor commented. There are even vegan options, such as the spinach and tomato risotto or the mushroom one, the vegetable linguini or the tropical salad.
For those who don’t like meat, the octopus “lagareiro” style is just as tasty as the typical Portuguese dish of codfish that is also served here or, if you fancy another fish dish, there is the salmon fillet or bream. As might be expected, there is also seafood rice and cataplana as well as the special Cataplana Vau Steakhouse, which substitutes the traditional seafood with filet mignon.
The menu was carefully chosen by Vítor’s wife Vanda, his brother Chico and another of the seven brothers, João Carlos, who like Chico also has experience in catering. The list of meat dishes is extensive, and the recommendations are many but, when in doubt, the Surf & Turf dish will not leave you dissatisfied. The pepper steak, the Tomahawk, or the mixed meat platter will all delight meat lovers, as the restaurant serves cuts of excellence that come from Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.
Nonetheless, national and regional products are also valued, and the family works in partnership with local suppliers. Floral Portimão wine is on the list along with some references from the Alentejo region and several from the Douro. For those who prefer a more aromatic drink, there is sparkling wine and champagne as well as red, white, or sparkling sangria.
“We stand out for our genuine essence, for the attention we give to customers and for the joyful spirit with which we serve them,” Vítor emphasised. In addition to these factors, there is the breathtaking view where the sky meets the sea, which makes for a calming and cheerful atmosphere, helped along by the vibrant colours of both the beach and the surrounding nature. “It is a wide-open space adaptable to any circumstance and climate,” the owner explained, showing that the glass around the centre of the restaurant can be fitted or not and the structure allows to choose the size of the serving area.
A fascinating space for those inside and the ones passing by, you are greeted with a giant bull made of weathered steel, which immediately draws attention to the fact that it is a steakhouse, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that allow you to feel the harmony of the place and enjoy the landscape it provides.
It was Vanda who imagined a space for large events, hence the decoration in light colours with white chairs and tables which “convey purity and peace”, she explained. The other elements were also carefully selected – the plants are all natural and most were already on the grounds and nothing better than sand on the outside to remind diners of where they are, a few metres from the beach.
The team of professionals features several family members, including four of Vítor’s nephews and his eldest son, which makes the atmosphere comfortable and cosy. “They all get along very well and work perfectly together. They know how to communicate and understand when there is an opportunity to be in a more informal environment,” revealed the owner.
Vau Steakhouse is known by both locals and foreigners, but most diners are from the United Kingdom and United States, as well as Canadians, Spanish, French, Italians, and Germans. “We mostly speak English here, but I would like to have more local people visiting us,” Vítor stated. “The Portuguese associate ‘steakhouse’ with a high-priced establishment and only meat dishes, which is not what happens here.”
The idea of opening a restaurant came from the Vítor and Vanda’s experience after two years working in the catering sector in Luanda, the capital of Angola. Vanda already had experience as a cook and her husband in table service, essential factors that led to the realisation of a common desire: to open a business of their own.
Before that, after years of working as a night security guard in the Algarve, Vítor decided he no longer wanted to work those shifts and chose to move to London, where he joined three of his brothers who were already living there. Despite having the ambition to work in a different sector, he ended up accepting a security guard position but this time in restaurants, having later also done table service.
Even though he was close to his family, he did not feel complete. “I had the ambition to change my life, I felt I could do more professionally, and I decided to return to my country. However, as Vanda’s family is in Angola, we chose to try a life there but it didn’t work out so we have returned and put all our efforts into this business,” he said.