Albergue 1601 might have the best location of any restaurant in Macau, in the immaculately maintained Albergue da Santa Casa da Misericordia complex very close to St. Lazarus Church. The grounds originally belonged to a charity group that provided free lodging to widowed women, and is more commonly known as the Old Ladies Home.
A beautiful and enchanting place, it’s forever ranked as one my favourite spots to visit in Macau, one you should definitely check out when in town. Albergue 1601 is located inside the complex and even offers outside seating via a small patio, and I could not wait to take in the Old Ladies Home from there over dinner and excellent bottle of wine.
It was a nice dream granted, but Albergue 1601 didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. After dining there, I’d say the restaurant is living off its location and is merely a cheap tourist trap, totally overrated and irrelevant.
For starters, no wine on their list is under $288 while corkage costs $250, a very high number for Macau. I had to pay $28 for olives which are usually free, while dry, hard garlic bread costs an astonishing $48.
The free welcome bread was no better and after I complained I was given another serving, which turned out to be just as stale as what I had before. It was a bit softer though, so I’m sure all they did was warm it up.
Not wanting to pay corkage I tried one of their wines, the Encontro Beira Atlantico 2008, for $350. It was horrible and a chore to finish, somehow drier than the bread. I couldn’t find how much it costs online, but I’d be shocked if it retailed for more than 75 Mops.
Turning to the food, I tried two appetizers and one main that had their ups and downs. The Pig’s Ear Salad ($58) was great – a marvellous mixture of pork, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, garlic and oregano leaves.
The Stuffed Squid ($88) and African Chicken ($168), on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The squid resembled a dumpling and was all of three puny portions – tasty yes, but far too small.
The African Chicken was served with a sauce so spicy that it totally dominated the dish and that’s all I could taste. Perhaps those into spice would dig it, but I definitely wouldn’t order it again, and would hesitate to even call it African Chicken.
The worst part of the meal though was how I was made to feel like an ignorant, insignificant tourist. When I dine alone with a bottle of wine, it usually takes me about an hour and a half to finish. At Albergue however, course followed course followed course, even when I wasn’t done with the last one. I got the feeling they don’t care for solo diners very much and just wanted me out as soon as possible.
In Macau, with its strong Portuguese tradition, and indeed, in a Portuguese restaurant at that – that’s simply not acceptable. Nothing and no one should ever be rushed, especially when there’s wine on the table.
Given its terrific location, Albergue 1601 has to qualify as one of the biggest let downs in Macau. Go somewhere where your business and presence is going to be respected and appreciated.