On a sunny afternoon in the beautiful town of Silves, we enjoyed a wonderful vegetarian lunch at Parsley & Thyme where we had the tastiest experience we could have ever asked for - Indian, Syrian and Italian food with fresh locally bought produce.

At Parsley & Thyme, whose name is inspired by the song Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel, customers can eat proper vegetarian tapas and enjoy a yummy experience.

On arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the owners of Parsley & Thyme, Ashley da Costa and Marina Chudinova. They are so nice and friendly that you will feel happy the moment you enter their well-decorated restaurant.

You can choose to sit inside or eat outdoors. On the terrace, you can enjoy the traditional vibe of the town while looking at the Arade river. On the other hand, the interior is cosy with a decoration in green colours, a painting of Silves, comfortable seats with cushions.

They told me that this restaurant opened in April 2021 and after many battles they had to face because setting up a restaurant in pandemic times is not easy, they are very proud of what they have achieved and the rewarding work they do every day.

We meet the chef, Marina Chudinova, who is the one behind the complex dishes. She prepares everything in such detail that you can be impressed by the wonderful mix of flavours and colours that come together. What's more, the meals are not only tasty but also healthy and local. She told me that they go to the market in Silves to buy their ingredients and that they also have local suppliers.

As for Ashley da Costa, who is in charge of serving customers, he is very friendly and professional. He has a Portuguese surname because, despite being Indian, he is from Goa, in India, which for four centuries was in Portugal overseas Empire.

International meal

We started our meals with Muhammara, a Syrian recipe that looks like hummus but is much better. Made from red pepper, this red dish is something amazing, coming with spring onions, carrots and bread. We loved it - it's perfect to order as a starter.

Then we had vegetarian bruschetta with beetroot, feta cheese and onions. I think this was probably my favourite. I had never had feta cheese before and was impressed with the harmonised flavor together with the other ingredients. Beetroot is actually a very healthy food; however, in my view, it's not the tastiest, but with this recipe, you will have a dish that is so delicious but where you won't feel sorry afterwards.

Our next course was a Portobello mushroom. I was asked what kind of cheese I preferred - vegan or not - I decided to have a vegan cheese just to try it and it turned out to be a very good choice. Also, I think this restaurant is exactly the place where non-vegans can go and see for themselves that vegan food is really good and, if well prepared and of high quality, they won't even notice that it is vegan.

To finish with our exceptional tasting of vegetarian foods, we had our last main course which was an Indian Thali with four plates served with different and flavorsome foods. One was basmati rice with curry, then vegetables, then potatoes and lentils - all the Indian way and accompanied with bread and fried onions that they make in the restaurant.

As for drinks, I had a drink called "Why not" which is a Portuguese product from Ericeira and my mother drank water from Monchique, but in Parsley & Thyme they have a very good selection of high quality wines and among them some vegan ones.

We were pretty full when we ordered dessert, but we couldn't resist trying a chocolate brownie with vegan coconut ice cream. Once again I didn't even notice the difference between this vegan ice cream or a normal ice cream we are used to. It was simply delicious.

If you are looking for a different culinary experience or simple have a homemade, healthy and local meal in the old city of Silves, please call +351 930 570 316 or +351 939 482 488 or email parsleyandthyme21@gmail.com


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins