Serra Da Estrella

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32 R Joe Slovo, Maputo, Mozambique


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    Oct 2014 · Dana Sanchez

    Despite being on the second floor, Serra da Estrela is a popular restaurant with businessmen and women. Tucked behind the Hotel...

    Despite being on the second floor, Serra da Estrela is a popular restaurant with businessmen and women. Tucked behind the Hotel Tivoli in Maputo, it’s thriving against the odds.
    Serra da Estrela is named after the highest mountain range in continental Portugal. A chain of restaurants by the same name does business in Portugal but the one in Maputo is unrelated to them.
    When owners José and Isabel e Silva opened the restaurant in 2007, everyone told them the location would never work. They were wrong.
    Eight years later, the restaurant servies an impressive lunch buffet with mainly Portuguese and Mozambican food, and dining is a la carte at night.
    The buffet items change daily.
    On the day I visited, these were some of the buffet offerings:
    – Beans with octopus — a Portuguese stew.
    – Grilled chicken with a butter, lemon and piri-piri sauce.
    – Mutton stew with crispy roast potatoes.
    – Mboa with xima, a Mozambican side dish made with mielie meal, aka cornmeal/pap/grits, and leaves of sweet potato plants flavored with coconut.
    – Julienned carrots, cabbage and greens boiled and then fried in olive oil and garlic.
    – Roast piglet.
    All the food was full of flavor and I wanted seconds of the mutton and roast potatoes.
    Although buffets are help-yourself by definition, my waiter was suspicious of my motives when I started taking notes about the meal. I needed him for translation, so I was forced to interact. Suspicious turned into officious, and that’s how I met Isabel. I sought her out to get information about the restaurant. It all worked out well in the end.
    A glimpse at the a la carte menu at Serra da Estrela showed that codfish is a specialty at this restaurant. You can get codfish baked with Portuguese sausage, boiled, grilled with peppers and potato, fried with onion sauce, with cornbread, baked with mayonnaise, in a pasta and in pastries.
    There’s also seafood, chicken, steak, duck, and more.
    For an extra 200 metical ($6.40 U.S.) I could have helped myself to a dessert buffet at lunch that looked tempting. It had milk, lemon and strawberry tarts, cakes and crepes made fresh.
    There’s live music Sundays at Serra da Estrella.
    Less than a block down the street from Serra da Estrela, I met Isabel at Sands and Sopas, a second Maputo restaurant she opened following the success of Sera da Estrela. This soup and sandwich shop caters to a different clientelle — those who can’t afford — or don’t want to spend — 420 metical ($13.40) for a lunch buffet.
    Sandwiches at Sands and Sopas are served on bread still fresh from the oven. For 200 metical ($6.38) you can get soup, juice and a small sandwich. Take aways are big at Sands and Sopas, and it stays busy from morning to night, Isabel said.

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