A Hotel, the Douro, a Kitchen and 4 luxury hands

A few months have passed since our last visit to Douro, however, it’s always good to notice that any excuse is good to return! Even more when returning to a riverside paradise – Six Senses Douro Valley – this time to the occasion of a very special dinner.

A dinner by the enfant terrible of Portuguese cuisine, Ljubomir Stanisic, no need for introductions, and the quieter Alexandre Silva, the creative and starred chef behind Loco.

Water and olive oil, who molded together and became friends and for the first time cooked together, an accomplishment for the most Yugoslavian “alentejano” in the country (that’s right cause Ljubomir considers himself an Alentejo pureblood) who says he doesn’t like people.

With the best scenery, a wide table for around 14 guests, an open kitchen and a big team focused on giving us a unique experience of haute cuisine in Douro.

And the 14 courses show started very well, with a “mata-bicho”, aka beef tartar between two crispy slices of bacon. Refreshing the combo’s greasiness was some great lime caviar.


After the meat, the sea flavors, in a disruptive but right order. A crunchy vine leaf with caviar for the first kick of ocean. Followed by a uni hosomaki: sea urchin rolled in nori.

An umami and sea bomb that worked very well.

Followed an oyster with green curry, balanced and mild, in which the oyster was able to keep the spotlight.

On the glass was a great level Vértice Cuvée, which bubble and acidity made of it a good partner for these first snacks.

Then came an egg, meaning, cockle, grape gelatin, and wild garlic.

On a high level was the prawn tartar with mustard seeds and garlic pickle.

Mussel, Apple, and Thyme 

Still on sea flavors comes the Mussel, in its sauce, refreshed by the apple and flavored by the thyme, in a good game of flavors and textures.

For a toast was, and nicely, the young Encruzado 2016 O Oenólogo from Casa da Passarela.

In a pause from the sea flavors, that dominated this dinner, comes a kind of “ravioli”, breaded and fried, filled with queijo da serra (Portuguese cheese from Serra da Estrela), served like a carbonara along with some generous black summer truffle slices. Tasty and delicate with earthy notes, already needed in this phase of dinner.

Red mullet sashimi

And then we dove into the ocean again, with a fresh and delicate red mullet, masterfully prepared by Alexandre Silva, before coming down to earth again with poultry livers and Resende cherries, like a grown-up lollipop. Delicious!

 Meanwhile, on the glass, it was time to taste the Encosta do Bocho with a Grande Reserva 2014. A classic Douro blend well paired with the wood.

We continue with a great pink prawn, accompanied by the heads sauce, a rich razor clam tartar, and coconut curry. Good textures and cooking of the prawn, contrasting nicely with the intensity of the sauces.

Followed a sardine soup with leek. A comforting warmth in this stage of dinner, elevated by the intensity and richness of flavors, hard not to notice.

The Turbot was so big it was enough to create two different dishes. First the flap, my favorite part, that the Portuguese insist on living on the side of the dish. Here accompanied by a small but intense fermented meat paste. The dish had everything to go wrong but in the end, positively surprised us.

Turbot, seaweed sauce, and goose barnacles 

Perfectly cooked turbot (would it be so hard for our restaurants to stop killing the fish on the grill?), accompanied by a dive on its habitat, a seaweed sauce, goose barnacles and a bit more seaweed, bringing an ocean explosion to our palate.

Elevating the history of the dishes, we also leveled up on wines, with these past dishes being accompanied by the brilliant white of Cristiano Van Zeller, the Quinta Vale D. Maria Vinha do Martim 2016. A white of rare beauty, full of citrus, minerality and great integration of the wood. A presence in the mouth that leaves no one indifferent!

John Dory, Resende cherries and spinach 

If by now you’re thinking there were no crazy moments by Ljubomir during this dinner, this moment might be the biggest of them, and the worst – or best, depending on the point of view – it was backed up by Cristiano Van Zeller. Well, the john dory dish, perfectly cooked, accompanied by raw spinach and cherries was harmonized by a “modest” 1870 Port, a sample of cask from the Van Zeller estate.

If it worked? Strangely, yes! But I must confess it didn’t last long in my memory after the Port, a simply sublime wine!

A summer truffle of considerable size 

Bísaro pork cheek, mushrooms, vegetables, and black truffle 

There were many dishes, many highlights, and surprises before arriving at this capable pork cheek dish, with forest flavors, not heavy, nor exaggerate, just what was asked for that moment.

As imposed and asked of both chefs, the ending of this long dinner was light and refreshing. Firstly with herbs and leaves in a sorbet style to cleanse the palate, and after with strawberries and red fruits, full of flavor, well paired with a granita and a sorbet. Perfect ending!

A unique and unrepeatable dinner, marked by dishes that merged, as rarely happens in these 4 hands dinners, where it isn’t always easy to recognize the dishes of one or the other chef, both by the style or the cuisine.
Here Ljubomir and Alexandre Silva merged like no one else, for the pleasure of the guests who were able to enjoy top quality products worked masterfully and surprisingly.

This series of dinners continued with Hugo Nascimento and Henrique Sá Pessoa and promised to return in 2019 to brighten up, even more, the evenings at Six Senses Douro Valley, and always with the motto of quality and sustainability that characterize the hotel.

Now we just need to return to Six Senses and get to know the Terroir, the vegetarian restaurant Ljubomir fell in love with and where they try a cuisine based in a reduced ecological footprint, working with small producers and taking maximum advantage of the kitchen gardens at the hotel and its surroundings.

See you soon!

Hotel Six Senses Douro Valley
Bedrooms from 290€
Quinta de Vale Abraão– Samodães, Lamego
+351 254 660 600 

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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