São Gião

sgiao - 9Talking about São Gião is invoking the religious side of gastronomy, Firstly heading to Moreira de Cónegos is like a pilgrimage (I confess I much prefer this type of sacrifice), Secondly the hands and the ingredients of Pedro Nunes are divine work.

Arriving to the restaurant is not one of hardest tasks, a good GPS or a friend who’s a fan of football easily can indicate you the location of Moreirense’s Stadium; as to São Gião it’s a bit harder to find at first, but it is right in front of the Stadium’s parking lot, in a house, that looks more like a private house, without great identification.

After entering the heavy wood door everything changes, the space is wide and bright due to the big windows surrounding the room, which put the green fields of the region as background.

sgiao - 10The decoration is simple, with classic and modern details but minimalist, the colored water glasses being the main extravagance, the tables are spacious and well distributed, allowing some privacy and the right to talk even with a full house.

Already well installed we started with the couvert (2,5€) that would proved to be the least happy moment of the meal, much because of the bread, which quality I won’t miss, accompanied with olive oil.

sgiao - 8Goose liver Tureen (10€)
The menu at São Gião changes in an almost daily basis, based on the emotions of Pedro Nunes and the best ingredients he gets at his house. We had the luck to taste his Foie Gras mid-cuit, and forgive me the bitterest PETA activists, but it was one of the best Tureens I ever tasted in Portugal. Super right texture, strong but delicate flavor, served at the correct temperature (it fails so many times), very well accompanied by thin toasts and a raspberry jam, which sweetness and acidity worked very well with the tureen.

sgiao - 7Shrimp omelet (12€)
It is really hard to find a nicely executed omelet around here, either they’re burned with a dry interior, or they taste like oil without a pinch of butter. At São Gião they are a classic so we decided to share one as a starter. If on the outside it had several slightly burned areas, the interior compensated the excess cooking temperature, creamy and still a bit liquid with the correct seasoning and on spot shrimps, also in the right amount. If it weren’t for its exterior it would’ve been perfect!

sgiao - 5Fried Roosterfish, Açorda de milharas (21€)
Being in the Minho region the doses are big and would be enough to share, but we don’t do this pilgrimage everyday so we decided to be a little selfish. The roosterfish fillets (quite big) were perfectly fried, without excess fat, a good batter, quite crunchy with a moist interior. An absolutely delicious fish very well accompanied by the tasty açorda de milharas (a type of traditional Portuguese soup from Alentejo), well-seasoned with the right amount of roe, was just a bit to liquid for my personal taste, having in account I like my açorda a bit more consistent and creamy.

sgiao - 6Patty of assorted meats (18€)
A delicious and comforting pie, with meats travelling between chicken and game, still moist and succulent. A strong dish, full of flavor, enhanced by the potato gratin and the very nicely roasted vegetables. Another excellent moment.

sgiao - 4Abade Priscos Pudding (4,5€)
Going to Minho and not eating the most important of the national puddings would never be seen with good eyes, so, it was the first dessert chosen. And in good time we made that decision, perfect consistence, with the characteristic features of a good Abade de Priscos pudding, with the notes from the toucinho (bacon) and the Port wine being felt; sweet enough for an already long and heavy meal.

sgiao - 3Blueberry puff pastry pie (4,5€)
A puff pastry made of crunchy layers of filo pastry, filled with a good blueberry jam. A simple dessert but with a good game of textures and temperatures, conjugating very well the warmth and the sweetness of the puff pastry with the red fruit ice cream.

The wine list presents the main national references, as it should being Pedro Nunes a claimed oenophile, with reasonable prices. We accompanied our meal with a White from Duas Quintas 2013 from Ramos Pinto (17,5€) that behaved in a very competent way with the chosen dishes.

Besides the menu and the hands of the Chef, the Service is one of São Gião’s strengths, competent employees that like what they’re doing, mixing very well the professionalism and the detail of a classic service with the opening and relaxation from more modern spaces.

sgiao - 1

Final Remarks
Pedro Nunes is a guaranteed highlight name among his pairs, mostly for the mastery with which he combines the Portuguese tradition with the French technique and some more irreverent details, being easy to find in his menu either his famous roasted lamb,  an oyster risotto or a foie tureen, like the one we had.

Concerning our meal, if it wasn’t for the quality of the couvert being below the expected and the omelet being slightly burned on the outside, everything would be perfect. Great quality ingredients and good quality techniques make this one of the most interesting restaurants in the North and in the Country. A space that deserves all the pilgrimages and festivals and of which I consider myself a devotee! Now it remains for me to pray that in my next religious tour the menu will have carabineiros (prawns)!

Note: After this visit the São Gião restaurant was elected by the voters of the “Flavors & Senses – The Best for 2015″ awards, in the the category of Out of Doors Restaurant (see).

sgiao - 2The countless awards of  São Gião

São Gião Restaurant
Avenida Comendador Joaquim de Almeida Freitas, 56 Moreira de Cónegos
253 561 853

Versão Portuguesa

Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

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