Lisbon's hottest tinned fish joint
When you think of gourmet holiday cuisine - the stuff so good that you only normally treat yourself when you're in foreign climes - chances are you wouldn't think of tinned fish.

Let's face it: canned fish is just not glamorous.

But, as I learnt from my stay in Lisbon, it can be very, very tasty.

Tinned fish is a big deal in Lisbon. As you walk around the city centre, you will see numerous shops that solely stock canned fish. Near my hotel, there was even a canned fish-themed amusement arcade, complete with rotating canned fish Ferris wheel. Yes, really.

There are also cafes that serve fish from cans, and it was in one of these fishy establishments that I let go of all my preconceptions and embraced canned fish in all its stinky glory.

The café we went to was called Sole e Pesca, and it's a gem of a place, hidden away in the old town. A hangout for the locals, this café somehow manages to make its fishing themed décor seem cool and not cheesy.

The walls of the restaurant are lined with cans that you can buy and take away, or sit down and eat. Diagrams of fish, lobster traps and other fishing paraphernalia adorn the walls and ceiling, and the menus have built-in fishing rods.

So what's on the menu? You guessed it - canned fish, and little else. The menu is divided into two main sections: one in which you're served fish from can to plate, with no accoutrements, and the other where the fish is accompanied by a few other simple ingredients.

We tried the mackerel and sweet potato mash, sardines (of course), mackerel, cod roe, octopus, and caper-stuffed anchovies.

I can honestly say that the fish - despite being from a can - was some of the best I'd ever had, beating even fresh-off-the-boat stuff. I was shocked at how absolutely delicious I found it.

But if, like me, you need more than someone else's word to convince you that tinned fish can be a great thing, then why not try it yourself?

Head down to Sole e Pesca at R. Nova do Carvalho 44, 1200-161 and put their cans to the test.

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