Osteria delle tre panche

After a successful restaurant on the less touristy Via Pacinoti and a stint in New York for a pop-up, Andrea and Vieri, the two passionate minds behind Osteria delle tre panche, decided it was time to open a second restaurant.

What better place than the historic center of Florence, especially when the location is a fifth floor above the Ponte Vecchio with a view of the Duomo. The food quality was already guaranteed in their first space, and now the location and ambiance were also secured and improved.

the view from our table


The restaurant occupies a floor and the rooftop of the classic Hermitage Hotel, featuring a traditional room dominated by wood, exuding the atmosphere of an old English club, complete with patina and identity. But its secret lies in the rooftop, offering an almost 360-degree view in an intimate and informal setting, where we had lunch.

Osteria delle tre Panche has consistently been recognized for its work with truffles, so during the white truffle season, we couldn’t resist following the suggestions with this unique product.

Fried Polenta, hare ragù
We started off well, with a crispy exterior polenta but moist on the inside, topped with hare ragù cooked for hours over low heat, creating distinct flavor nuances from a typical ragù. It’s always a pleasant surprise to discover the various “sauces” that the Tuscans make from different game meats.

Foie gras from Chianti, toasts, and mustards
Only the name is foie gras; what they really serve is the classic Tuscan pâté made from bird liver, prepared here with excellence. Impeccable texture and flavor, especially when paired with some accompanying mustards.

With this dish, we enjoyed Livio Felluga Sharis, a Friuli white that combines elegance and complexity by blending Chardonnay with the native Ribolla Gialla grape. A wine that paired exceptionally well with the liver dish.

Tagliolini and White Truffle
We couldn’t resist embracing these dishes in a restaurant known for its truffle-based dishes, especially in the peak of white truffle season. We started with well-prepared tagliolini with butter and, of course, the unforgettable aroma of truffle that stimulates all the senses. It was the perfect dish for a first meal in Italy!

Harmonizing with this was a Girolamo from Castello di Bossi, a 100% Merlot with extended aging that gave it nuances and delicacy capable of accompanying the dish.

Beef Tartare, egg yolk and white truffle
It is done in an Italian-style classic, where the meat has fewer accompaniments than the French version but where the flavor of the meat and the always spectacular truffle aroma stand out. A little more salt would have elevated the taste even more.

Accompanying it was a more robust Corbaia from the producer Castello di Bossi, this time with a more traditional blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. A firm and balanced Super Tuscan whose ripe red fruit and acidity notes worked well with the dish.

We left no room for dessert, but legend says that their cheesecake is appreciated and praised beyond borders.

The service was diligent and straightforward yet always assertive, especially in the accompaniment and assistance provided by their sommelier.

Final Considerations
Osteria delle tre panche is already a well-established classic in the city, visited by locals and tourists searching for authentic Tuscan flavors. The space in the historic center combines an idyllic location with a sober and timeless decoration that caters to all tastes without any problem, especially those who, like us, have the privilege of facing Brunelleschi’s masterpiece. If you’re looking for a typically Florentine restaurant, and especially if you’re interested in discovering and tasting truffle-based dishes, this might be the place for you. We could easily return today!

Prices from 45€ (without wines)
Roof Hotel Hermitage | Vicolo Marzio, 1 – Florence
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Hotel Arts Barcelona

Na nossa última viagem a Barcelona escolhemos aquele que viria a transformar-se num dos nossos hotéis favoritos na cidade – o Hotel Arts Barcelona.

A caminhada em direção ao hotel é, por si só, uma experiência marcada pelo deslumbramento. O seu imponente exterior de aço e vidro destaca-se no horizonte da cidade, proporcionando uma visão única. O hotel tem uma conjugação perfeita – é um hotel de praia luxuoso e ao mesmo tempo consegue ser um destino sofisticado no centro da cidade.

Built from 1991 onwards for the ’92 Olympic Games, the Hotel Arts Barcelona became famous for its unique architecture that redefined the surroundings completely. It is a perfect combination of contemporary design and traditional luxury, with 44 floors designed by renowned architecture studio Skidmore Owings Merrill under the direction of Bruce Graham.

The building only began operating as Hotel Arts Barcelona under the Ritz-Carlton acronym in 1994, and since then, it has truly lived up to its name; the hotel is truly an art gallery in itself! The iconic El Peix water sculpture stands out, designed by Frank Gehry, one of the most notable among the more than 500 pieces of art distributed throughout the hotel, including collaborations with art galleries that use contemporary pieces specially selected just for the space.

This was our first trip with Franciscam when she was only 7 months old. I can’t say that the choice of hotel was based on this fact, but the truth is that the location and comfort of the hotel significantly improved the experience of traveling with such a tiny and demanding baby.

With every room offering stunning views over the city and the Mediterranean, our Executive Suite was no exception. It is decorated with a more neutral design, which meets the usual standard of Ritz-Carlton hotels, with discreet furniture, a large bed, and simple but exquisite decor.

Another of the highlights of Arts Barcelona is the array of restaurants and bars.

Seven restaurants and bars within Arts Barcelona create a diverse culinary experience, from cocktails at the cosmopolitan P41 Bar & Coctelarium to the prestigious Enoteca Paco Pérez, with two Michelin stars.

Uma cuidada e ampla seleção de pequeno almoço

The breakfast selection is diverse and carefully chosen.

In between, the acclaimed Roka, with Japanese cuisine, is open only in the summer. Marina Coastal Food with Mediterranean cuisine, The Pantry with its more intimate atmosphere for a late afternoon or lighter dinner, Bites, the ideal place for a snack throughout the day, a wine mid-afternoon or just a work meeting, and Lokal that presents us with the first meal of the day.

Here, we must highlight a remarkable versatility, one of the key elements of Arts Barcelona – 43 The Spa. A refuge that almost allows us to touch the clouds.

The Spa is basically a duplex at the top of the hotel and has several relaxation areas, massage rooms, a Turkish bath, a swimming pool, and a sauna with probably one of the best views in the world!

There is only one drawback I need help understanding – the Spa does not have free access for guests. And I’m not talking about carrying out some type of therapy, which would obviously have to be paid for. I’m talking about just using the facilities and the water circuit. I understand the need to make an appointment to ensure greater privacy and leisure time, but I cannot comprehend that guests must pay to use the facilities.

Returning to Arts Barcelona services. In addition to the beautiful gardens where we can get lost, the hotel has two swimming pools, an outdoor one more oriented towards families and an infinity pool just for adults. This excellent rule allows those traveling without children to enjoy moments of relaxation.Regarding wellness areas, the hotel also has a perfectly complete gym for the most demanding of athletes.

For those who travel for work and decide to stay in one of the best hotels in the city, know that Arts Barcelona has 14 rooms for events such as conferences, meetings, or lectures, as well as a ballroom that can accommodate more than 1000 guests.

It should be noted that each room can be perfectly customizable according to the event itself.

For those who use exclusivity as the theme of their travels, the hotel has the Club Floor and the Executive Club Lounge, a kind of usual Ritz-Carlton staple. A little paradise for Premium guests, with private check-in and complimentary meals throughout the day.

A fantastic first trip with our “fera”

In conclusion, Hotel Arts Barcelona has the perfect symbiosis between the sea, the city, and art. After 30 years, it has not only kept up with the changes but also known how to reinvent itself to remain one of the most unmissable hotels in the city.

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Estimar – Barcelona

Esteem, appreciation, and respect are the guiding principles of any proper product-focused restaurant – those that genuinely center their attention on the product, as opposed to those who merely revel in advertising it, often laden with pretentiousness… But let’s move forward! –

Among these sanctuaries of the product, it’s even rarer to witness the signature of a chef intertwining with this naked, unadorned cuisine, entirely focused on bringing out the best in each ingredient, as is the case with Estimar and Rafa Zafra. Opened in 2016 in Barcelona, in a location that would probably have everything going against it, Rafa brought his extensive resume (including stints at the finest restaurants in Spain and Italy; the Sevillian chef will forever be linked to the Adrià brothers, with whom he led Hacienda Benazuza at El Bulli Hotel and Heart in Ibiza) to a kitchen that’s 100% devoted to the sea.

With unique ingredients in hand, the result of a five-generation connection to the Gotanegra family, who’ve been selling fish and seafood at the Port of Roses, Rafa’s signature revolves primarily around daring combinations that awaken in diners a craving and desire that are hard to put into words – just remember his celebrated sea urchin with prawn and caviar.

Stepping into the restaurant feels like entering a world of its own, an entirely informal atmosphere with bare and nearly overlapping tables. The dining room doubles as a counter and a kitchen, allowing us to witness a well-choreographed spectacle of cuisine and service. At the table, we were greeted with a couvert of marinated Boquerón, olives, excellent bread, and champagne in our glasses.


Estimar’s Gilda 3.0 is an elevation of the Basque classic, accompanied by the quintessential Catalan tomato bread. Anchovy, caper, guindilla pepper, garlic, bell pepper, and olive, all intertwined on a small skewer brimming with dimensions and nuances of flavor, make it clear right from the start that we’re not in just any seafood joint.
Next came one of Rafa’s signatures, a toast with smoked butter and one of his fetishes, caviar. Rumor has it that he might be the chef selling the most caviar worldwide, largely thanks to his restaurant Jondal in Ibiza. Delightful notes of smoke and fat, refreshed by a dip in the sea. I could quickly devour a dozen… or two!

We continue with another saline plunge, this time with singular French oysters, served with pomp and circumstance and finished with a touch of shallot mignonette.

Sea Urchin, Prawn, and Caviar
This dish is one of Rafa Zafra’s most unique signatures and one of the reasons for our visit, fortunately available. For those who relish marine and natural flavors, it’s impossible to resist this explosion of sea, texture, and a perfect balance of salinity and sweetness. It could easily be my last meal!

Sea Anemone
Once again, technique is used to enhance a rare and underrated ingredient – sea anemones. The frying process creates a crispy exterior while the interior is bursting with flavor and texture.

A langoustine weighing over 500 grams, lightly cooked in the Josper grill until its body is no longer completely translucent. Juicy, sweet, and unique, it is a superior tribute to the product placed before us. For the Portuguese, it might clearly resemble raw seafood. Still, the truth is that we need to change the way we appreciate such noble ingredients, brimming with so much to offer.

Gamba Roja from Roses
The seafood that Rafa most frequently uses and pays tribute to are these red prawns from Roses. They could be from any other port – Dénia, Huelva, Palamós, Garrucha… as the critter knows no borders. The difference lies mainly in the boats and in how they are treated and cared for from the moment of catch to the final delivery. As for the taste, there’s not much to say; it’s my favorite crustacean, with a sweet body and a head bursting with flavor intensity that’s hard to resist. Here, they were lightly grilled in the Josper and served immediately.

Without getting into the usual turbot/brill war prevalent in our country (Portugal), here we savor the brill, or what our Spanish neighbors call “rémol”. A small-sized fish, perfect for two diners after a long meal. Grilled to perfection in the Josper, deboned, and drizzled with a richer-than-usual Bilbaina sauce, which differs from the norm found in the Basque Country.

It was accompanied by a unique tomato salad featuring different varieties that can easily win over even the most skeptical.

Cheesecake, Strawberry marmalade
Desserts are another important chapter at Estimar, crafted by Francisco Zafra, the chef’s brother and current executive chef at Estimar Barcelona. Unfortunately, we couldn’t indulge in more than one dessert (they’re all quite sizable, suitable for two people), so the choice always falls on the cheese tart when available. Creamy as it is dictated by current trends, but with a more citrusy and fresh flavor than usual. A beautiful finale!

The service proceeded diligently and at a good pace, with particular attention given to the fact that there was a small child among us. High marks for explanations of each dish and menu suggestions, while our glasses were always full of Bollinger at a fair price that would put many Portuguese restaurants to shame.

Final Thoughts
Entering Estimar’s vigilant doors is like stepping into an extraordinary world, carefully crafted by Rafa, Anna, and Ricardo. It’s a world of exceptional flavor, service, informality, respect, and passion. The chefs show a great deal of care and love for unique products that are meticulously selected and increasingly rare. The cuisine is not based on ‘science fiction,’ which would be the easiest route for Rafa Zafra. Instead, it is stripped of everything except flavor and technical precision. It is an unforgettable meal for anyone who loves sea flavors, full of high points and concluded in the best way possible.

I am already counting the days until I can return. Estimar is unquestionably a must-visit!

Estimar – Barcelona
Preços a partir de 100€ (sem vinhos)
Carrer de Sant Antoni dels Sombrerers, 3 – Barcelona

English Version

Fotos: Flavors & Senses

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The Lodge – Wine & Business Hotel

Located in one of the most historic areas of Porto, or rather, Vila Nova de Gaia is the timeless The Lodge Wine & Business Hotel. With the exclusive touch of Nini Andrade Silva, in every corner of the hotel, the soul of the Douro is clearly visible, as well as the designer’s signature, with its curved lines, tones, and materials.

Its location in the noble and centuries-old Port wine cellars adds history to its modern charm, with every detail resonating with the wine culture, thus paying homage to the identity of the Douro wine region.

First Impression
Inaugurated in 2020, The Lodge originates from ancient Port wine cellars. The architectural authenticity of the building has been carefully preserved in its structure, maintaining the spirit and soul of the Douro and the city.

Upon entering the hotel, we are greeted by a contemporary and modern design that leaves us with an impression of boldness, yet it is simultaneously discreet. Earthy tones of the Douro landscape and the blues of the river dominate the hotel’s interior.

The Lodge was our first choice for a getaway after the birth of our daughter, Maria Francisca, and the experience couldn’t have been better.

Since we live close to the hotel, we took the opportunity to have a peaceful day, meaning our 4-month-old ‘wild one’ stayed with her grandmother, with the understanding that we would pick her up in the evening and bring her to the hotel for her first experience away from home! The hotel was informed of this detail and had everything prepared for her upon our arrival.

We were welcomed by a friendly reception team who promptly took care of our check-in and directed us to the rapid COVID-19 test (yes, in the summer of 2021, the virus was still a concern). With the assistance of a smiling team member who informed us how things were returning to normal in the hospitality industry, we took the test. We returned to the reception to meet the charismatic Niklas – Marketing & Sales Director – who told us and showed us some of The Lodge’s history.

The Lodge offers a total of 119 rooms spread across 7 floors, providing a variety of room types: Signature Suite, Suite, Junior Suite, Superior Room, Deluxe Room, and Terrace Deluxe Room. We stayed in a Deluxe Room whose modern design and warm colors conveyed a sense of comfort and elegance.

The privileged views of the Douro River and the city of Porto added charm to our stay and made the moment memorable.

In Francisca’s crib, we found a welcoming gesture in the form of Occitane baby products. Also waiting for us were sweets, fruit, and wine – the right way to welcome guests (although strangely, the wine was from the Dão)!

At The Lodge, no detail is left to chance, from the comfort of the bed to the tapestry reflecting in the various mirrors, creating a sense of brightness in every corner. The view and the city’s light reward every inch of the room, culminating in the comfort of the armchair that allows for a leisurely moment.

The hotel features two distinct dining spaces: The Lodge Bar and its flagship, the Dona Maria restaurant. The Lodge Bar stands out as a central space in the hotel, showcasing luxury and sophistication in its decor and an extensive selection of wines and spirits. It’s the ideal choice for a relaxing evening, from contemporary cocktails to classics. Here, you can also indulge in a complete and flavorful Afternoon Tea.

This space pays tribute to the ‘Dona Marias,’ the skilled cooks who made their mark in Portuguese gastronomy history! The goal is to revive the best traditional recipes from Porto and the country’s Northern region.

Dona Maria boasts a marvelous ceiling adorned with giant vine leaves and a sinuous wine cellar that envelops the entire space. Marble, velvet, and wood come together seamlessly, extending the dining area to an inviting terrace with magnificent views of Porto.

Here, we had the opportunity to dine in a calm environment, perfect for the tender age of our little one, who still managed to take a beauty nap, providing both beauty and rejuvenation for her and tranquility for us! We shared some delicious croquettes, ‘Xerém’ with clams, and a modernized version of chicken soup before indulging in an impeccable codfish dish and a boneless ‘chanfana.’ Everything was spot on, without any highs or lows that would linger in our memory.

Next to the hotel’s pool, guests can enjoy various drinks and snacks throughout the day.

Speaking of the pool – it is set in a space that resembles a true oasis amidst the city’s hustle and bustle! With heated water, comfortable sun loungers, and secluded sofas, it provided the perfect backdrop for our afternoon while we savored a fine Portuguese sparkling wine.

Next to the pool, there’s also a small gym for those who, unlike us, enjoy keeping up with their workouts during vacations.

However, the hotel does not have a spa. Still, for those who want to enjoy a moment of relaxation, there is always the option to request an In-Room Spa, whether for massage, beauty services, or even hairstyling.

For wine enthusiasts, The Lodge offers Wine Tastings and Experiences accompanied by traditional Portuguese gastronomic delights. The hotel even has a Wine Academy led by a team of sommeliers, offering beginner training courses.

One of the most enjoyable activities that can be arranged is a magnificent boat or yacht trip on the Douro River, organized by the hotel’s team.

In addition to this, there is a multitude of activities outside the hotel but expertly managed by the unit – such as exploring the city or even the wine regions of the country, visiting one of the hotel’s partner estates and even staying there, and participating in the grape harvest if it’s the season for it.

The breathtaking views over the Douro River

For those traveling on business, The Lodge is also a hotel to consider, as it is a Business Hotel, offering several rooms with varying capacities that can be used for corporate and social events.

Breakfast in the room

It is known that human resources in the tourism and gastronomy sectors can be scarce, and training opportunities are limited or not up to the desired standard. However, our experience at The Lodge was a pleasant surprise.

A young, dynamic, attentive, and amiable team. The constant attention and care for Francisca ultimately won me over.

A stay to be repeated whenever we want to escape the hustle and bustle of life without going too far!

See you soon, The Lodge Wine & Business Hotel!

The Lodge – Wine & Business Hotel
Rooms from 175€ 
Rua de Serpa Pinto 60, 4400-307 Vila Nova de Gaia

Portuguese Version

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Pedro Lemos – “There is only one Pedro Lemos”

“There is only one Pedro Lemos” could very well be the title of the following text; we can say this about many chefs, but not so much when we look at the national panorama. I had followed Pedro Lemos’ work for many years, largely because of the audacity of having named his first solo restaurant after him when fine dining was a mirage in Porto. Pedro brought much more than “Snacks, wines and goodies”; he gathered the whole city – including those looking for a more cosmopolitan and trendy restaurant – around him, his risky proposals, and his deep flavors.

Changes, struggles, ups and downs, and a lot of perseverance brought the first Michelin star and, with it, stability and a more informed international clientele (it took too long, as is the hallmark of our Spanish inspectors), new adventures, new restaurants, more daring dishes and to a recent innovation in his kitchen, the small amuse bouche.

And after a short wait, we started dinner exactly with these novelties accompanied by a glass of Murganheira Grande Reserva 2005, with a unique elegance and complex aging notes that place it among the good national sparkling wines.

 The amuse bouche

So we started with crab bao, cod blini, smoked duck and nori tartlet, and mushroom and quail egg macaron, all aesthetically impeccable. Still, none of them proved to be unforgettable, with small flaws in the composition making some of the flavors or textures get lost.

Mackerel, Lettuce, and Ginger
Here the case changes completely, allowing us to truly enter Pedro Lemos’ cuisine, increasingly refined and influenced by Asian cuisine – I well remember a dish of tuna and wasabi, where I probably had my first notion of this influence – the notes fresh combined with the fat and richness of the blue fish made this a wonderful first moment.

A high note for the unexpected cocktail with which we harmonized the dish based on white port, gin, mezcal, and shiso cordial that worked perfectly with the plate and which served a little more chilled could be in any bar with international awards.

Duck foie gras, quince and brioche
This is the “I could eat this all my life” moment on Pedro Lemos’ menus, a dish that has always been with him and that I remember in all its versions, from the small parallelepiped with macaron, honey, and spice bread. The shapes and accompaniments have changed, freshly baked brioche has appeared, and in this version, quince in different textures to ensure we see all their technical repertoire. What doesn’t change is the caramelized foie mousse, full of flavor and silky texture. It will certainly be the best foie in the country!

In the glass was, and well, a Barbeito Ribeiro Real Verdelho 1981, the perfect Portuguese companion for the foie, here in a smooth textured flask, where the flavors of caramel and lemon and a slight smokiness heightened by the delicious acidity proved to be a great companion for the foie.

Eel, kimchi, macadamia, and sprouts
A dish that marks a visual change and a combination of elements, flavors, and textures compared to what Pedro Lemos had already accustomed us to. The eel and the sauce (delicious) stand out in a great combination of elements, with earthy notes combining well with fresher and more acidic flavors.

Algarve prawn, sea urchin, and chawanmushi
Once again, French and Japanese cuisine gain harmony in a breathtaking dish. All faultless with the silky chawanmushi, the raw gamba, and the fried heads, but where the highlight was, as usual, the sauce! Ladies and gentlemen, what a sauce! There should have been jars of this sauce to bring home at the end of dinner as a souvenir. The dish reminded me of a classic by Arnaud Lallement in his Assiette Champenoise(*** Michelin), but it surpassed its depth of flavour.

To harmonize – or to drink – that I was the one who took the bottle, without thinking or knowing what I was going to eat, was one of those producers that I keep in my heart, Ramonet Saint Aubin Premier Cru “En Remilly” 2016, the master of Chassagne-Montrachet which here shows a complex chardonnay, marked by the good wood with the oxidative notes that characterize it, but still an elegance that allowed it to float well on the dishes.

Monkfish, Pumpkin, and Consomme
Yet another example of the new aesthetic side, with more elements and more technical details and textures, here with a shiny monkfish at its perfect point (I could write an article about the suffering it is to see this fish treated so poorly in our kitchens) well combined with the different elements, where once again, the sauce, or in this case the broth, is highlighted. Another great dish!

Here, they decided to make some risky moves bringing the wine I got for the next dish, a 2016 Niepoort Charme whose finesse and delicate tannins allowed a perfect accompaniment to the fish.

Beef, chickpeas, and ranch dressing
Looking at the description of the dish, it would be difficult to imagine the delicacy and elegance that would follow, beef in different textures, including a paste similar to tortellini, grain, emulsions, and other elements, which result in a bomb of flavor that is difficult to stop eating. A commandment from Pedro Lemos telling his colleagues that you don’t need wagyu or old mountain beef sirloin to create a perfect meat dish.

Pineapple, muscat, and citronella
For a first dessert, the freshness of pineapple and citronella combine with the sweet, ripe, and spicy notes of muscat. A great turning point on the menu.

Chocolate, coffee, and rum
I must confess that when I looked at the menu, I felt a certain nostalgia for a possible version 10.0 of the “Banana, sago e Madeira” with which Pedro Lemos so often ended his menu. Since he is not passionate about the sweet stage, we had two examples of great level here. Coffee is in the right measure to enhance the flavor of chocolate, present here in different and tasty textures. Simple and effective.

The pairing ended with 40 Year Old Tawny Dow’s, which, although not the most obvious companion for chocolate, positioned itself very well alongside the notes of coffee and rum, adding notes of dried fruit.

Also noteworthy is the service, which despite a slow start, quickly got into line and continued at a good pace. It is always difficult to evaluate the service when it’s carried out by new people in a restaurant with which we have some history, at the risk of being unfair due to the force of the past… but here everything went with excellence and good presentation.

To finish off without too much artifice, a madeleine served as a petit four, but not just any madeleine, freshly baked, sweet in just the right measure, and with a glowing belly. Perfect!

Less positive, only the bread, the least impressive and singular element on the menu, specially considering the sauces we tasted here, which deserved to be paired with a bread of superior quality.

Final remarks
Pedro Lemos presents his menu with the phrase, “If I feel like I can’t adapt to this world, it’s because I was born to create mine.” – we could talk about ego and pretentiousness. Still, the truth is that those who follow his work (it’s not worth saying that they follow without sitting at his table) know that Pedro Lemos rarely exposes himself or shows his work on social networks or through communication agencies. For me, the world he refers to is a world against the current… more classic in its gastronomic genesis, but simultaneously a breath of fresh air. Yes, what I’ve just written may seem like a paradox. Still, a menu with dishes that I can’t associate with other “Instagrams,” without caviar, without scarlet prawns or wagyu (as much as I love these ingredients), is always a breath of joy that combats the boredom that can often be a tasting menu.

Saying that Pedro Lemos will perhaps be the best saucier in Portugal may seem reductive for many, but for me it is a reason for pleasure and pride in a restaurant where I always leave with the feeling that I should visit it more often, so yes, “Pedro Lemos there’s only one!”

Pedro Lemos
Prices from 120€ (without wine)
Rua do Padre Luís Cabral, 974 – Porto

Portuguese Version

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta

One of the last hotels I tried before Francisca was born but already pregnant was Ventozelo Hotel e Quinta.

An authentic refuge in the middle of the Douro and with probably, one of the most idyllic views over the river.

First Impression
Ventozelo is not just a hotel; it is even a farm that, after a careful transformation, gave rise to a luxury hotel, keeping the traditions and stories of the Douro and its people in every corner.

Upon arrival, we were received at a reception right at the entrance next to the car park – The Douro was already felt around us, and nature stood out without asking permission!

I want to bring to the attention of the staff answering the call at the parking lot that they made us park our car instead of letting us enter immediately. This caused inconvenience as we had to return to the parking lot after check-in to retrieve the vehicle. The parking lot was a bit far, and it was extremely hot that day, making it even more uncomfortable.

But mistakes aside, we were led to our room while we observed the calm environment around us.

I immediately realized that Ventozelo is the perfect place to escape everyday life’s usual hustle and bustle and completely disconnect. Every corner invites you to moments of complete leisure!

There are 29, and they are spread across the different buildings throughout the Quinta. Each of these buildings has been meticulously rehabilitated, maintaining the original design but gaining a new life with a touch of comfort wrapped in contemporary decor.

Thus, spread over houses or individual rooms – we have Casa do Feitor (5 double rooms plus one for guests with reduced mobility); Casa do Laranjal (5 double rooms); Balloons (2 independent rooms); Casa dos Cardanhos – where we stayed – (7 superior double rooms); Casa Romântica (house with a suite); Casa do Rio (house with 2 double rooms) and Casa Grande (6 superior double rooms).

Casa Grande has a private pool with a privileged view and is ideal for families or groups of friends.

While for example, Casa Romântica is the most charming and ideal spot for a getaway for two. In fact, I believe every room has a story to tell.

We stayed at Casa dos Cardanhos, in one of the elegant rooms. The decor is simple and minimalist, with comfort being the watchword. You can access a garden from the bedroom with one of the best views you can ask for – the Douro in its fullness.

The Quinta has a space where all meals are taken – the Cantina de Ventozelo, which serves as a restaurant (where all meals are served throughout the day) and wine bar.

This is where, in the past, meals were served to workers on the farm. Cantina de Ventozelo’s motto is to give life to local gastronomy and traditional Douro recipes with the signature of chef Miguel Castro Silva.

The ingredients are produced on the farm or by local producers – thus ensuring sustainability and almost zero ecological impact.

Here we had the opportunity to have breakfast with the four-legged guests who roam freely around the farm! A simple and tasty breakfast with minor timing errors that were quickly forgotten with the view of the Douro from the Cantina terrace!

Despite enjoying à la Carte breakfast, I was missing an excellent pre-covid Buffet (fortunately, they are back)! – It is essential to mention that we were at Quinta de Ventozelo in July 2020, so the measures were still significantly reinforced as we were at the beginning of the pandemic. And Ventozelo respected them perfectly, making us feel safe throughout our stay.

We also had the opportunity to taste the wines of the Quinta and have dinner in the Cantina, where the flavors of comfort and tradition gain a subtle signature touch, where the most important thing is not to compromise the region’s products.

Another place associated with gastronomy in Ventozelo is its small and lovely grocery store.

At Mercearia de Ventozelo we can find practically everything that we taste in the Cantina or that we observe on the farm. From wines, fruits, vegetables, olive oil and much more.

Strolling around the Quinta is one of the best activities you can do. The excellent Jardim dos Aromas won me over and quickly became my favorite spot. Too bad the aroma felt in that place could not be translated into words.

You can start here, walk through the gardens, and visit the small chapel, wine press, and wine cellar.

The Quinta has 7 trails so that we can get to know in depth all the corners of this Douro refuge, including creating an app that guests can access on their mobile phones to be guided during their routes.

The Quinta also has an Interpretation Center, allowing us to better understand the Douro.

It is located in a building from the sec. XVIII, where we are invited to interpret the Douro territory, starting from Quinta de Ventozelo. Obviously, and being on a farm in the Douro, Wine Tastings are imperative. After visiting the Interpretive Center, there is nothing like tasting the flavor of all the history that has just been covered.

Another of the services that Ventozelo offers is the infinity pool with the Douro and its terraces as the horizon.

The pool and its beauty and location are undeniable. At the time of our stay, we were in the middle of a pandemic, so people who stayed in hotels at this stage did not leave them, not least because few activities were running in full outside the hotel at that time. So, all the guests were in the pool, something the hotel did not foresee. The number of sunbeds was minimal, and then chairs were scattered around the garden to relax while watching the Douro, which was not the ideal scenario at all.

Also, a less positive note for the fact that the pool area did not have towels there, so guests were obliged to go to reception to get them if the reception had forgotten to deliver them at the time of check-in! Which is what happened to us!

Well, let’s see, the reception was not that close to the pool, it was infernally hot, so the situation was easy to resolve, the pool bar employee contacted someone from reception to go to the pool to take the towel, simple! But it didn’t happen!

But, I understood, we had just been in the process of a pandemic, and the hotels had resumed their work, and everything was still a little confusing.

However, one certainty hangs in the air – This pool has probably one of the most idyllic locations in the world!

I believe more sunbeds and towels have now been taken care of, and the experience would have been perfect!

Unfortunately, this is one of the most significant national shortcomings, and in the most rural and inland areas, it is a problem we live even more intensely. There is a lack of human resources and also a lack of professional training. This is a shame because, at Ventozelo, friendliness and smiles are always present.

High note for the restaurant staff who took care of and were concerned about my diet due to the pregnancy!

It should be noted that the friendliness and care of the staff were constant. If this were combined with more people with different training, we would have perfect teams at Ventozelo and throughout our country’s hotel industry.

Now I promise to return soon, already with Francisca, to show her the charms of the Douro and the beauty of Quinta de Ventozelo.

Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta 
Rooms from 185€ 
Quinta de Ventozelo, Ervedosa do Douro, 5130-135 Portugal

Versão Portuguesa

Fotos: Flavors & Senses

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It was in the former palace of the Campos Navarro family, built in 1861 that after several different lives, the luxurious Hotel Torel Palace Porto (see) was born, and with it, the Blind restaurant. If the hotel pays homage to Portuguese literature and its authors, the restaurant, as its name implies, takes us back to José Saramago and the work “Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira”.

The restless and creative spirit behind the project is Vítor Matos, the starred chef who accumulates yet another consulting project here, but where he always gets his hands dirty (as happened on the night of our visit). We have consistently recognized a solid artistic streak in the chef, from painting to internationally famous pottery, made in partnership with Vista Alegre, passing through the always meticulously executed plating, even before instagram trends.

Blind’s proposal is to take us on a journey of senses, emotions, experiences, and inspirations that are part of the chef’s life, from his childhood to his dreams, also passing through chefs and creative details that have marked him at some point. All of this comes together in an intimate, dark, and simultaneously seductive space designed by Isabel Sá Nogueira – whose only fault is that the rose hanging over the table is not a natural flower and, therefore, cannot accompany the most romantic couples at the end of the meal as an emotional memory.

But let’s leave my romantic vein and move on to what brings us here, the Blind Emotions Menu tasting (the restaurant only works with a tasting menu that can be 10 or 12 moments long). At the table, we are quickly treated to a flute of Sidónio Sousa Bruto, bottled exclusively for Torel hotels, followed by two signature cocktails, Touch – vodka, lemon, violet, and egg white, and Sound – gin, melon, ginger beer, and egg white.

Amuse-bouches – salmon tramezzino, cornetto, foie gras ducks and expresso martini

We started the meal off with a delicious cured salmon tramezzino, a miniature version of a delicate sandwich of salmon, herbs, and salmon roe, a mini cornetto that takes us back to the classic strawberry cornetto of a lifetime, but which here it is prepared with cheese from the islands, tomatoes and thin, crispy dough, rubber ducks that here weren’t used to play with in the bath but to soak in the greasiness and richness of the foie gras, which, incidentally, combined very well with the last moment, an espresso martini shot.

À Flor da Pele – Yellowtail, gazpacho, tomato, coriander, cucumber and olive
We started immediately with a dish with the chef’s signature being very evident, from the plating to the number of elements. Marinated and lightly seared lily, different textures of cucumber, tomato, explosive olives, and coriander. A dish full of elegance and freshness, ideal for the beginning of the tasting.

This was followed by the “Blindfolded Eyes” moment, where we were invited to eat blindfolded and to guess the elements that make up the dish solely through its flavor. Raw Algarve prawn (the most straightforward flavor), citrus gel, and an enveloping warm leek foam contrasted nicely with the richness of the yolk cream (which I didn’t identify) and the fennel.

It is a moment that is not what I look for in fine dining these days, but I understand its use, even more so for anyone being introduced to the concept. Judging by the room’s glam faces, I wonder if I’m right!

In the glass is a Lacrau Moscatel Galego 2022, which despite being dry, demonstrates the sweet and tropical characteristics of the variety.

Bread and butter

At a good pace, we continue with the bread that increasingly gains space in the middle of the menus, this time with “Candlelight” consisting of an excellent selection of sourdough bread from the bakery Bom Miolo in Póvoa de Varzim, served with a candle butter flavored with truffle oil.

Falling Leaves – Pumpkin Raviolis, Boletus, pumpkin seeds, hazelnut, and acorn
A comfort dish with good technical nuances and full of flavor and textures that turned out to be one of the best of the night. Earthy, sweet, rich, and balanced flavors that conquered with every spoonful that we took.

Harmonizing was a Procura in the 2018 amphora by Susana Esteban, whose good acidity and minerality contrasted nicely with the dish.

Sea air – Steamed sea bass, bivalves, seaweed and plankton consommé and fish broth
The dish is one of those moments that represent a dip in the sea, the habitat, or the ocean. And that’s exactly what we received on the plate, a sea bomb with barnacles, razor clams, and cockles that, combined with a good plankton broth, give us a faultless feeling of the sea. In addition, we were invited to get into the Fat Duck spirit in 2007, when we put some headphones in our ears in which the only sound emitted was that of the sea. An immersion in the flavor and the surroundings of the sea resulted in a great dish that, personally, I preferred only the fish at a slightly lower point (still better than most of what we find around).

For this moment, they kept the wine of the night, a Bairrada made from old vines, a blend of Maria Gomes and Bical that Vítor Matos bottled with his label, Natura Calcariu 2016 with 60 months of aging in used fuder from Mosel. A wine made at Niepoort and selected in good time by the chef. A great white that represents well the potential of Portuguese whites when worked differently.

Horta Marítima – Scarlet shrimp, carrots, ginger, fennel, lemongrass, and caviar
As in any restaurant with aspirations to stardom in Portugal, the scarlet shrimp could not be missing (not that I care at all… but they could even start betting on the enlisted one I prefer). The rich flavor of the shrimp (with impeccable cooking) contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the carrot, the salinity of the caviar, and the freshness of the fennel and other elements. Very good!

It accompanied a 2020 Quinta da Vacaria Reserve White, a “classic” profile of the Douro with the region’s typical grape varieties, identical to the others that the winemaker makes in the region. A wine that doesn’t fill my measurements but that fulfilled its mission of harmonizing. But let’s say it’s not easy to serve a “typical” white after the previous wine.

Meat on Ashes – Matured Ribeye, Roasted Celery, Black Garlic, Roasted Pepper, Brussel Sprouts, Truffle, and Meat Sauce
In tastings, there are always dishes that impress us less, and here was the case with this ribeye – good meat, good roasted celery puree, and a good sauce, served in small quantities so that we can combine all the elements of the dish with it. The fact that the truffle no longer exhibits all its pomp and fragrance also contributed to the lesser interest of the dish.

When it was time for a red, a Quinta da Vacaria red 2020 was drunk, with an identical profile to its white brother. It was complex and extracted with the touriga nacional standing out, accompanied by the brand of wood.

Da EstrelaPumpkin compote, cream cheese ice cream, nougat and meringue
The classic combination of curd cheese and pumpkin jam replaced the moment of cheeses or a lighter and fresher pre-dessert. Comfort, flavor, and textures were well achieved in an excellent first dessert.

My ChildhoodCotton candy, caramels, macaron
The QR code takes us to the story of the chef and the dessert that arrives at the table to the rhythm of the cowbell, so characteristic of dairy cows in the transalpine fields. A combination of sweets and memories I easily recall – my childhood in a Trás-os-Montes village often resulted in waiting for the sweets that emigrant uncles presented us with. As for the dessert, where the sweetest flavors and loose elements rested on vanilla mousse, mascarpone, and tropical fruit notes. I preferred these different individual details with plenty of distinct sweet notes separately rather than as a whole.

I Have a DreamMatcha truffle, yuzu tartlet, and wasabi financier
With the petit fours, the chef tells us that he dreams of taking a trip to Japan (a dream we share, by the way!), a good matcha truffle served in the bonsai, a delicate and fresh yuzu tartlet, and a financier of wasabi (in this case of the folder and not the root). Simple, enjoyable, and effective!

Accompanying the desserts was a Tawny Quinta da Vacaria, 20 Years Old, much more interesting than its table counterparts to do justice to the history of the Quinta. Its notes of caramel, coffee, spices, and dried fruits work in full with the sweets served.

A positive note for the service, entirely made of women, executed with technique and precision combined with an exceptionally relaxed conversation, ideal for a space where there is so much interaction between the room and the diner. The head chef multiplies well between various functions, so adding a well-prepared sommelier would be the cherry on top.

The exterior area of the restaurant

Final Remarks
I have been following the work of Vítor Matos for a long time, if in the past, I recognized him as having more technical value than flavor, but that changed several years ago with a dish of pigeon served at Antiqvvm, cleaner of adjacent elements, with perfect cooking and a taste brushing against perfection. These days it’s easy to try his cuisine ( he signs several consultancies, from fine dining to the most traditional cuisine) but not so much what comes out of his hands. So it’s always nice to see him present his creations in a chef’s jacket. As for Blind, its claim to the much-desired star is clear – if we knew a checklist on “what to do” or “what not to do”, it would undoubtedly have a large number of marks at the time of the evaluation, but I wouldn’t say that its moment has already. A restaurant with no big ups and downs, no major mistakes, and that seems perfect for those looking to introduce themselves to the world of fine dining, with fun moments of interaction and challenge that help to “break the ice” that we can often feel in this kind of dining. The tasting menu of 10 or 12 moments varies between 50 of the chef’s creations, depending on the seasonality of the products, which is why we promise to accompany you on other trips.

Finally, just one more note about the Natura Calcariu 2016: it is a tremendous Portuguese white, so if you’re lucky enough to come across it, be sure to try it. You will be delighted!

Blind – Torel Palace Porto
Prices from 100€ (without wines)
Rua de Entreparedes 42 – Porto

Portuguese version

Fotos: Flavors & Senses

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Torel Palace Porto

When someone transforms a baroque palace from the 19th century into a luxurious boutique hotel, we know the experience will be memorable. Torel Palace Porto is one of those refuges that makes you travel back in time and immerses you in an unreal atmosphere.

First impression
Unparalleled classic to palatial style, yet cozy enough. An imposing entrance, smiling staff, and a reception where books descend from the ceiling like stars!

Torel Palace Porto created its essence in homage to the most iconic Portuguese writers and poets, which is why its theme is identified in every corner of the hotel: literature!

Hotel Library

The hotel has 24 rooms, 11 rooms, and 13 suites. Some have a balcony, some overlook the pool, while others overlook the city. But they all share one feature: a literary atmosphere mixed with elegance, class, and even a touch of sensuality. Yes, you read it right! And yes, a bedroom can be sexy!

Our stay in the Superior Bocage Suite could have contributed to our experience, as a quote welcoming us read, “Lovers are like that; everyone flees reason.”

A classic room with high ceilings and walls full of history, untouched by time but reinvented with a contemporary touch. A mirrored installation was installed in its center, making our image invade from every corner of the room – but it is nothing more, nothing less, than the bathroom, created in this way so as not to alter the secular structure.

Art through literature is Torel Palace’s motto, and they have shown mastery in creating this atmosphere! The bed is exceptionally comfortable, with tea and coffee available throughout your stay. Every corner of this room was art, as seen in the photographs.


One of Torel’s ex libris is its restaurant, Blind, with the signature of award-winning chef Vítor Matos, whose motto anticipates the experience: “The chef refines the food, while the customer refines the senses.” Open since 2020, Blind concept is a tribute to José Saramago’s work, “Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira”, where they can test all the senses! An elegant room, which also serves as a bar and poolside, this is where the Blind Emotions menu comes to us.

This is also where breakfast is served, here, on a less positive note, we found little variety and the absence of some crucial elements that are essential in a hotel of the level we associate Torel Palace Porto with.

João tells you about our experience dining at Blind in another article.

After our stay, Torel Palace launched Florbela Pâtisserie in its small library, which aims to bring a bit of Paris to Porto. As it should be, the inspiration continues to be literature; therefore, this Pâtisserie is a tribute to the life and work of the poet Florbela Espanca.

Breakfast is also served on Blind

Here you can enjoy a selection of sweets produced by pastry chef Eva Monteiro using the most refined French pastry techniques while leafing through one of the many books spread across the shelves in this beautiful corner of the hotel.

Torel Palace offers the usual services of a 5-star hotel, including transfer service to and from the airport (by appointment), babysitting, hotel porters, concierge, laundry service, and room service available 24 hours a day, as well as parking next door to the hotel.

The magical ceiling from the top of the building

Despite not having a spa, Torel offers the Calla Wellness Suite, which provides personalized relaxation, aesthetics, and well-being services.

The swimming pool is one of the many areas of relaxation that the hotel proposes. A wall of nature rises through it, transforming this pool into an authentic refuge from the daily hustle and bustle.

Torel Palace has magic, art, literature, history, past and present, and will undoubtedly have a bright future. It’s an elegant hotel with a palatial feel without being overbearing or arrogant, and the mirrors in every corner give it an unbridled sensuality.

I want to go back, I really want to go back!

Torel Palace Porto
Rooms from 280€ 
Rua de Entreparedes 42 – Porto

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Essential is the name and apparently concept of this small restaurant at 176 Rua da Rosa in Bairro Alto. With a minimalist decoration, or if we want to keep the buzzword, reduced to the essentials – where light woods and neutral tones give a Nordic touch to a space that promises to follow anything but trends from northern Europe.

But let’s do a little briefing before sitting at the table: André Lança Cordeiro is the craftsman behind this project, a chef who had passed through France before settling in a palace in Lisbon and making his name known in a small project called “Local”. Here, on his own, André decided to reduce his cuisine to the adjective that gives the restaurant its name – great cooking and good products.

A reduction that is not made of minimalism or modernism but rather for bringing French cuisine to Lisbon, focusing on the product, refined in technique and flavor. A cuisine to which many have declared a death sentence but which is slowly gaining support and recognition from those who value the craftsmanship that goes into each dish.sourdough bread, butter and pork fat whipped with rosemary

In this French theater opened to diners, we can find André and, among others, Leonor Sobrinho (also known for being his right and left arm) and Daniel Silva, who went from being a passionate gastronome to maître d‘ and sommelier.

But let’s go to the table where we are received with hot bread, butter, and less likely pork fat whipped with rosemary, all very well drained with a Briords Vieilles Vignes Sur Lies 2020 from Muscadet, which demonstrates that the wine list is anything but commercial or boring.

Sea urchin, caviar lime and scarlet prawn tartare
To start the tasting with a dip in the sea, it could be a tribute to Rafa Zafra’s sea urchin in Estimar, but the choice of prawns, the acidity of the caviar lime, and the impeccable sauce take the dish to another level, and of course, with a big french accent. For me, they could have brought 4 or 5 of these.

Foie gras, quince and brioche puff
Speaking of French cuisine would not be possible without mentioning foie gras. Here it’s served in a delicate and well-executed torchon mi cuit, which is like saying that the liver has been marinated and lightly cooked until it reaches a point that makes it perfect for spreading. Next to it are well-crafted quinces (they are not just used for marmalade, as is, unfortunately, the hallmark of our more traditional cuisine) and a puffed brioche that, despite its good flavor, requires even more technical refinement.

Duck and orange pâté en croûte, foie gras, pistachio, carrot and pear
Pâté en croûte is synonymous with French savoir vivre, rare in Portugal, and exceptionally well executed! Over the last few years, it has been one of the main focuses of André Tecla Cordeiro’s work and one of the dishes that made him famous during the pandemic as a takeaway. Exquisite filling, full of flavor, freshness, and sweetness to taste, well accompanied by carrot purée, pear confit, and pickles. To my personal taste, only the sides of the dough deserved a little more cooking for a better contrast between the dough and the filling.

In the glass, these two kitchen icons were accompanied by the Domaine de Bellivière Vieilles Eparses by Eric Nicolas in the Loir. A 100% Chenin whose minerality and citrus notes combined with some honey made a good pairing with the dishes.

Sole, watercress, celery, truffle, roasted Jerusalem artichoke and champagne sauce with herring roe
We are still in a classic kitchen but as on point as any other, except for taking a little more work than putting the fish in the sous vide at the right temperature. The fish is on point, with all the elements marrying beautifully in the mouth, with notes of freshness and earthy linking very well with the salinity of the sauce. If only there was caviar, we could have eaten at any of the star restaurants in Paris (the price would have been different…).

As there is no French cuisine without champagne, we drank Domaine Piollot Come das Tallants, a brut nature 100% pinot noir that served its purpose well and would be even better at the end with a cheese plate given its aroma and robustness.

Sirloin pithivier, foie gras, caramelized celery and black garlic purée, crispy potato mille-feuille
Another of the hallmarks of André Tecla Cordeiro’s kitchen has been his work with salted puff pastry, inspired by masters such as Bruno Verjus, Yohan Lastre, or Karen Torosyan; his proposals and fillings have been many. Here we tasted a complex sirloin steak with farce, foie, vegetables, and cabbage, all cooked to perfection with maximum precision – it must be a tremendous relief to put the knife in the dough and realize that everything came together just right. Accompanying the pithivier, everything at the highest level, from the jus to the puree and, of course, the blessed black truffle that André appreciates as much as I do.

Harmonizing was a less irreverent Quinta do Monte d’oiro Reserva 2013, a syrah with a hint of viognier, full of ripe fruit but without being boring, with hints of pepper giving it some grace. In the mouth, it showed polished tannins and wood very well integrated. It wasn’t something I expected to find after the other wines, but it didn’t compromise!

Hazelnut and truffle soufflé
Those following André’s work on social media will most likely come across him through the sinful photos of French pastries he rehearses. Soufllé is always a complex exercise that most pastry chefs shy away from. Still, in good time, André did not – delicate, rich, flavorful, and elevated to the ultimate level of epicureanism with the freshly shaved truffle. My winter could be full of this…

Vanilla mille-feuille, salted caramel
Considered by everyone who tastes it as the best in Lisbon, ever since I saw it online for the first time, it aroused great curiosity in me, firstly because it actually has an aspect of rare perfection and secondly because it reminded me of one of the best mille-feuilles I’ve ever seen. I had the opportunity to taste the one at Relais Louis XII by chef Manuel Martinez at the time with two Michelin stars in Paris; what a surprise when one day I realized in an interview that André passed by the restaurant’s pastry shop during his visit to the Parisian capital. As for dessert, there are not many adjectives to add; everyone should try it.

To end an already long meal and accompany the sweets in good shape, Daniel Silva’s choice was for one of my favorite producers from Jerez, a Cream Tradicion 20 years old from Bodegas Tradicion. This wine is the result of the combination of Pedro Ximénez with the incredible Oloroso from Palomino Fino, which becomes a very particular wine that is hard not to like.

There’s nothing to say about the service; it’s like being at the cooks’ house with a friend who knows about wines pouring us the glass, again the essentials, therefore!

Final Remarks
With a Nordic look and French matrix, the essential thing is a breath of fresh air – it may seem strange, I know! How can a classic French cuisine restaurant be something refreshing and innovative, you may be asking? But the answer is simple: how many of you, in an era of innovations, minimalism, and creations that are often entirely out of place, had already tasted a pithivier at its best? A pâté en croûte? a poulard en vessie or even a paris-brest?

Taking classics that shaped the history of cooking, reducing them to the focus of flavor, and handling them with an enviable technical rigor is something difficult to find and only accessible to those who are willing to suffer many hours in the kitchen and to those who can afford (there is always a doubt as to whether it will be a luxury or controlled ego) to fail, fail again and repeat. In an era shaped by aesthetic and plating influences, André Tecla Cordeiro let himself be influenced by the complexity and way of doing things, which makes his cuisine so refreshing. If the kitchen also has mistakes? He has! But the perseverance experienced in this kitchen tells us that these are passing errors by someone who lives more as an artisan than a chef. In short, it boils down to the essentials here – good food, and that’s the only option on the menu!

Prices from 50€ – (without wines)
Rua da Rosa – 176, 1200-390 Lisboa
+351 211 573 713

Portuguese Version

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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A rush to find a good restaurant close to the hotel where we were staying and open at 3pm, luckily ended up at Ofício. An atypical “tasca” or tavern, as they like to characterize themselves, but which has nothing to do with a tasca, neither in the food nor in the atmosphere or service.

In 2021, the space was completely renovated, maintaining the vaults that characterize the Chiado so much – in fact, it is an excellent tribute to the history written there, whether or not they were installed in an old and historic Convent. It gained new shapes, colors, graphics, and a new menu, now signed by Hugo Candeias.

Just look at Ofício’s social networks to realize that it reflects well a new gastronomic generation, from cooks, to businessmen and, of course, to customers that it intends to attract and treat as faithful, like any good Portuguese tasco.

Hugo Candeias does not appear by chance; he was also leading the fine dining project The Art Gate – now closed – coming from a busy Barcelona where he had worked alongside Albert Adrià in his Mexican restaurants. An evident experience that we can see in the construction of this Office’s menu, the colors, the techniques, the elements… always with a vibrant side, where good products are worked with precision but without anything intending to be taken too seriously, nothing, except the flavor!A long table to bring back the memory of typical a tasca tables

In a late reservation intended to be quick, we shared a series of snacks without going into the more complex menu elements. We started with good natural oysters from Neptun Pearl from Setúbal and a sparkling Blanc de Noirs from Ribeiro Santo.

Neptun Pearl Oysters

 Coastal Mussels in Escabeche
At the first bite, we know we are in the right place, faultless mussels, well cleaned, treated to the point, and with a light and delicate marinade well refreshed by lemon zest. Delicious with Isco’s great mother dough bread. All that was missing was a few Bonilla à la Vista chips to transport me close to the nirvana of our Spanish brothers.

Beef tartar, marrow, and brioche toasted with olive oil
I have been watching this tartar since its first appearance on social media! Roughly cut with a knife, letting the veins of fat in the meat show through, without excessive seasoning, where the mustard seed pickle stands out, and of course, the marrow, which brings it unctuousness and a depth of flavor challenging to match. Certainly one of the best examples in the capital. Also, a positive note for the toasted brioche, although the excess of green oil masked some of its flavors.

“Atypical Portuguese” gizzards
The typical stewed gizzards that characterize us so much gain the refined touch of haute cuisine here. Exemplary point of cooking, and two different sauces combine to give richness and flavor to the offal. A good contrast was provided by the lime zest, which in the right measure, refreshed and elevated the whole set.

Stewed meat, brioche bread
In a self-respecting tavern, you have to put your cutlery aside and get your hands dirty, which is why this sandwich is so well represented by the gluttony of tascas – juicy, crumbling meat, sauce and fresh, crunchy lettuce. Rich, unctuous, and with a je ne sais quoi of refined junk, which is always what you want.Cheesecake
Finally, a Basque cheesecake, or as they call it here – cheesecake by chef Hugo Candeias – a version of the classic pie immortalized by La Viña and whose fashion and madness spread throughout Spain. One of those avid consumers of cheese pie is myself, and with a good dose of ingested calories, I can say that it rivals the best in the neighboring country. In Madrid or Barcelona, Ofício would have to queue at the door just so they could buy this pie.

With this in mind, the chef and the Paradigma Group (restaurant owners) are preparing to open Dona by Hugo Candeias, a space dedicated to this piece of heaven.

By mid-afternoon, we were already alone in the space and entitled to service with an explanation from the chef included, so there is nothing to point out if not the fluidity and relaxation of times and service (especially when we are accompanied by a tiny baby). In the wine list, I felt that there was room for a better match with the space, with fewer classic proposals, but that did not necessarily have to fall exclusively into the natural trend; that said, today, I see that these changes have taken place and that the menu is now much more enjoyable.

Final remarks
I quickly understand who has made Ofício a second home and that their customers, foodies or not, do not stop recommending it. Well-designed space, good music, differentiated dishes in product and technique with fair prices (a rarity in cosmopolitan Portugal). The dynamics of taverns, snacks, and doing it in a modern way without neglecting comfort and respecting the recipes is a difficult balance to achieve and for which this Office is more than to be congratulated.

Now we just have to go back to try more substantial dishes that I’ve been eyeing for months on the oven rice and the ray with herbs sauce, that and one more excuse to bring another whole cheese tart to Porto.

Prices from 30€ – (without wines)
Rua Nova da Trindade, 11k – 1200-301 Lisboa
+351 910 456 440

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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