“Amar e Mar” (Love and Sea) is the motto giving the name to one of the restaurants in the renewed city of Leça da Palmeira, open since 2016 by young Matilde Silva, whom after a good experience at Nova Tendinha decided to embrace a bigger and bolder project.

For that she challenged Pedro Silva, one of the youngest of his generation, he passed through several starred restaurants, Pepe Vieira, Serge Vieira or even the classic Villa Joya. But he made himself a cook in Ricardo Costa’s kitchen at The Yeatman, and alongside João Vieira at Vista he got the weight of responsibility and the commando voice; with a short but intense career in fine dining restaurants it was seemingly easy to define the path of the restaurant, good produce, technique, comfort and signature combinations, almost like casual fine dining.

The space, right next to the ocean, combines an interesting terrace for the evenings and two comfortable and nicely decorated rooms, besides a private room in form of a sphere that made a lot of ink run in the national media.

But let’s focus on our experience, that fortunately is yet what makes us visit restaurants! Decided to put ourselves in the hands of the chef we opted for a small tasting of several moments of the menu, in smaller portions than usual.

Toroshimeji, carrot and turnip pickles and Asian vinaigrette  

And we started well, with a dish of well-tunned flavors and contrasts, revealing a good hand in the kitchen. Excellent balance of textures and acidity. It could benefit from a thicker cut of the toro, for it to release all its richness and greasiness into the combo.

Water and Soap

Followed the bread moment, based in the water bread recipe, served warm and accompanied by a good “soap”, a butter with hazelnut. One of the best bread proposals in town!

Foie Gras, caramelized apple brioche 

They call it foie gras brûlée because it is caramelized before being transformed and molded into a parfait. Great presentation in form of a fresh liver, served with a nice caramelized apple brioche. Nice texture and pleasant combination of flavors, although it could’ve benefited from a more intense foie gras (coming from an addict!).

Accompanying the appetizers were two cocktails, in a good level, a tiki and a classic, that went very well to initiate the meal.

 Signature cocktails 

Steamed sea bass, pig’s ear, crustaceans, shrimp, squid and roasted fish broth 

A dish that showcases this young cook’s school, and happily, a very sharp sense of flavor! Rare in a chef of his age! Good pasta on the ravioli, good filling, tasty broth connecting the elements, especially the contrast between the ear and the remaining elements. The fish was on the limit of its cooking but still giving a nice tasting.

We recently tasted a new and delicate version of this dish, excellent in shape and presentation with a thin noodle.

Harmonizing was a hard to find in the market proposal, the Maldito Branco, made by Dirk Niepoort for Ljubomir Stanisic, a wine with a strong mineral component, fresh, light and with a captivating aroma. A pleasurable wine to drink!

Ox cheek, mushrooms, carbonara ravioli, veal tendons sauce, and cheese foam

Again high score to the sauce, full of flavor and class. Well-accomplished dish in terms of flavor contrast and textures, all very well balanced. However, the cheek was lacking some succulence.

Linguini, chanterelles, and truffle

Fresh pasta, nicely worked in a comfort dish, full of flavor and good products, where the cheese, mushrooms, the aroma of the delicate truffles melted into perfection.

On the glass was another wine from the Dirk & Ljubomir duo, the Éclair 2011, a classic year of powerful wines and full of body, elegant and fresh, combining very well with the richness of the dish.

Pineapple, rum, and lime

As a palate cleanser, we got a pineapple “lollipop” semi-frozen, with a rum and lime sauce. Different, interesting and accomplishing very well its purpose.

Bubble – banana mousse, popcorn, chocolate and samphire 

The desserts are on the same level as the starters and the mains. With a special care in presentation, using molds and haute cuisine techniques and the result is very positive, like on this particular dessert where a good banana mousse combines with the chocolate sauce, the crunch from the popcorn and the samphire salt to create a very interesting result in the mouth.

There was still time to taste the Ammartier with a “diamond” arriving at the table, a well-accomplished combination of white chocolate with tropical fruits, coconut, and lime.

Lastly, and forgetting the night was long, we finished with excellent bonbons produced in-house. A nice surprise!

Some of the bonbons at Ammar  

Service was efficient, calm, good treatment and knowledge about the dishes served. To improve, just the timing between some dishes.

Final Remarks
“Há mar e mar, há ir e voltar…” (“There is sea and sea/There is ‘going’ and there is ‘returning'”), Alexandre O’Neill wrote this famous phrase in form of a warning for those adventuring into the ocean, but pun intended it’s easy to want to return to Ammar when we get to know the work this young duo is taking to good port. A restaurant where comfort cuisine and signature cuisine live together in a very peculiar way, and that I really like!

Sure, there are always details to improve, but the care, the flavor, and detail that chef Pedro Silva already puts in his dishes are synonyms of an auspicious and smiling future!

Ammar Restaurante Cocktelaria
Average price: 35€ per person without wines 
Rua de Fuzelhas Nº 5, Leça da Palmeira
+351 229 958 241

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Photos: Flavor & Senses
Text: Jorge
Versão Português

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