The Portuguese Experience at Emidio’s
This isn’t my usual blog topic, and I’m certainly not a connoisseur of restaurant cuisine. But I just had to write this! If you live in the Atlanta or travel to the Atlanta area, I highly recommend trying Emidio’s Restaurant in Sandy Springs. I even asked for a card so that I could give people their email: email@example.com.
Of course, I’m going to tell you why.
I tend to shy away from restaurants in general. I have a condition called gastroparesis where the stomach doesn’t digest food as well as it should. Consequently, I can’t eat beans, broccoli, cauliflower, coconut, pineapple, raw veggies and fruits, foods with high fat, or large quantities of food at one time. As you can imagine, eating in a restaurant becomes a game of gastric roulette, one I almost always lose.
Really good food is often rich in fat or contains foods my stomach can’t tolerate. That’s why I wasn’t looking forward to going to a restaurant for mother’s day. My son assured me there would be something I could eat that wouldn’t bother my stomach. I smiled politely and said, “yeah, sure.”
The restaurant is at the corner of a long L-shaped strip mall and looks from the outside like a place that would serve mid-priced fare. Walk in the door and you feel as if you’ve left the US and entered some restaurant in Europe. Pale pink table cloths with real cloth napkins, real silver ware and water glasses with stems are on each table. For someone who comes from a small country town where you can get a boiled shrimp dinner for $8, this was a very bad sign.
The first thing I looked at was the menu. $14 and up for each dish? My son knows my “this is WAY too much” face quite well, assuring me that it was well worth what he would be paying. Again, I smiled politely and asked, “Yeah, sure–where’s the bathroom?”
My son had more in mind than food when he stood up to make a short speech. He sings Fado, a form of Portuguese music that’s a mystery to a woman whose Portuguese vocabulary is relegated to “Please, Thank you, No, Yes, Where’s the bathroom.” What a mother’s day present to hear him sing to the mother’s celebrating their special day. Yes, I cried. What proud mother wouldn’t It may seem terribly prejudiced to say that it was perfect, but don’t take it from me. A Portuguese woman in her 80’s who barely speaks English thanked him, for it seems I may not know what Fado is but to those who do my son performs it admirably. Want to hear authentic Fado? He sings at the restaurant at least once a month as a Friday Night Essence (a thing you do that isn’t your primary profession but doing it saves your soul).
After Papa’s performance, the munchkin immediately gravitated toward a table with 2 children. My son followed her, beginning a conversation with their parents. We spent 4 hours at Emidio’s, where I learned that when you eat in a Portuguese restaurant, by the time you leave no one is a stranger. Chef Emidio and his wife came out and sat at the table with us several times. There was no rush to finish. And the food! Everything is fresh. Nothing—I repeat NOTHING—is frozen, dried, microwave mangled, or canned. The ingredients are purchase each day and, with the exception of desserts, the dishes are created only after they are ordered.
The family ordered seafood stew with mussels, scallops, fish, and shrimp in a tomato sauce delicately seasoned with fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and basil. It was served with yellow rice and vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini. They’re not stingy with the portions, either.
Most importantly for a person who is nervous about eating in restaurants, it is the first place I’ve eaten where I didn’t feel sick, or lose my lunch afterwards.
Emidio and his wife treated us as if we were welcome members of their family and by the time we left the restaurant, they felt like family. He was trying a new dessert and asked me to taste it. I had never heard of passion fruit liquor and he offered a taste.
I walked in believing the place must be overpriced. I walked out feeling as if no amount of money could do justice to this culinary and cultural experience.