If A Lorcha is the most overrated restaurant on the Macau Peninsula, then that honour belongs to Fernando when you’re talking about places to eat in Coloane.
Located beside Hac Sa Beach, Fernando is clearly living off its reputation as “one of the best restaurants in Southeast Asia”, content to sit back and rake in all that tourist money, all the while serving bland uninspiring food that doesn’t live up to its billing.
Marketed as a seafood restaurant, Fernando doesn’t really have that much seafood on the menu. And what seafood they do have is exceptionally ordinary.
The fish ($158) I tried was heavy and oily while the prawns ($188) lacked taste.
I fared no better with the half serving of Roasted Chicken ($90), which was bone dry and unappealing.
To top it off, waitresses were slow and lazy and I had to get up and find one whenever I wanted something. At the end, my total bill for two came to $558, and I felt like a sucker having to pay so much.
Fernando’s only real value may lie in its outdoor beer garden located between the two dining rooms.
On a hot summer day, it would make for the perfect place to kick back for an hour or two and enjoy a few cold ones. Just don’t have think about ordering any food when you do though.
You’re sure to be disappointed.
After years of knocking Fernando and ridiculing the owners of MacauSoul for their loyal support and business, I decided to give it another try in the summer of 2017. Armed with a list of Jacky’s personal favourites and strict instructions to “try the right things this time”, I visited twice for lunch with my good friend Layla Huang.
Sticking exclusively with Jacky’s recommendations, we tried Caldo Verde Soup ($40), Vegetable Salad ($62), Grilled Sardines ($118), Favas ($160), Sea Bream ($182), Suckling Pig ($186), and Oxtail Stew ($188).
I’m not going to completely go against what I wrote above, but Fernando is indeed a lot better than I originally thought, so much so that I’ve upped the ranking to 3.5 stars.
Except for the vegetable salad that was flat out pathetic, using only lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and perhaps the sea bream, every other dish was one I’d gladly order again.
I’d never heard of favas before, but it totally blew my mind, a beautiful bean stew smothered in sauce and soft fatty meat, somewhat reminiscent of a feijoada.
The oxtail stew was top shelf as well, a simple unpretentious family style dish that pairs splendidly with rice.
A trio of classic Portuguese favourites have the reputation of the being the best in town, and I totally agree when it comes to the Caldo Verde Soup and Grilled Sardines, although I wouldn’t go that far with the Suckling Pig.
Rocking fine crispy skin and soft juicy meat, it’s definitely up there but I’m not prepared to go all in and call it the best.
Regardless, it’s still very much worth ordering though.
The last thing to talk about is the sea bream. The first time we tried it, it was amazing, perhaps the best fish we’ve ever had in Macau. A subsequent visit though was very disappointing, as it was a lot more bony, black, charred, and overcooked the second time around. Until I hear more positive reviews, I’m taking it out of the circle of trust, because why take a risk when you don’t have to?
As usual, David and Jacky were right all along, and Fernando is indeed fantastic if you order the right things. I’d definitely go for the Caldo Verde Soup and Favas first without question, then round out the meal with any of the oxtail stew, suckling pig, or grilled sardines, depending on what you feel like eating.
As always, the restaurant inevitably fills up during peak hours, in particular Friday to Sunday lunch and dinner, so be sure to make reservations before dropping by then.