Bragança – Solar Bragançano

In an antique Manor from the XVIII century, a restaurant was born, almost three decades ago, representing Trás-Os-Montes like no other, I’m talking about Solar Bragançano, side by side with the castle, it is one of the main attractions in the city of Bragança. Besides, it was also nominated in the Out Of Doors Restaurant category at the “Flavors & Senses – The Best for 2015″ awards (see).

The concept is deceptively simple, founded by a couple where Ana Maria liked to cook and Desidério Rodrigues liked to hunt, they kept specializing in game dishes, cooking them in iron pots placed in the fireplace, like a few people still do during winter in the villages.

Therefore, the word that most prevails in this house is tradition, from the original design of the Solar (manor) of which they stole the name, to the rooms with well-arranged tables, to the linens and crockery, so historical and romantic, to its cuisine with a single menu for around thirty years now, where only the sides vary according to the season.

Already inside, we are welcomed by Desidério, who, with the house full of tourists and emigrants that in August return to their country, kindly guided us to the most romantic of the rooms, the garden, decorated with beautiful iron tables and lots of plants. I couldn’t ask for a better scenery for a summer lunch in the countryside!

Already installed we started our meal with wonderful toasted bread with olive oil from the region and a bit of pepper, while the remaining appetizers were being prepared.

 Alheira, Cheeses and smoked pork sausage

A table at Trás-os-Montes is a satiating table, and that is noticeable by the appetizers arriving at the table, three distinct cheeses, with highlight to the cured cheese with fennel seeds produced in the region. Good smoked pork sausage, and of course the alheira (type of Portuguese sausage with game or poultry meat), grilled like history demands, it revealed to be unique, rivaling with those I grew up eating, made by my grandmother’s hands. There was still space for a bit of pig ear salad, spotless preparation and spot on seasoning, with the pepper raising the flavors.

Partridge Salad (7,50€)

Delicate and succulent, pulled partridge in a marinade style; Accompanied very well by some delicious tomatoes from the countryside, olives and red cabbage that easily cut out the greasiness of the partridge. If the appetizers where a great signal, this modest dish smashed our expectations!

Pheasant with chestnuts (14,5€)

In terms of main courses, we could not run from the pot and the game, first a pheasant, slowly cooked with chestnuts; delicate meat of well marked flavor. Accompanying very well with the apple puree, which not only cuts the “strength” of the game but also gives it creaminess and connection. Very good.

Javali à Campesino (wild boar), stewed in an iron pot at the fireplace (14,5€)

I must confess that boar is one of my meats of election, growing up eating it in a regular basis (the advantages of being born at Trás-os-Montes). Ana Maria exquisitely prepares it, succulent, tender and full of flavor. The seasoning is right and the chestnut helps transporting us to the tables from other times. Also very good, the connection with the apple, slightly cooked with a red fruit jam, the acidity and sweetness complementing the wild boar very nicely.

Golden Pumpkin (4€)

This dessert is one of Ana Maria’s suggestions, a well prepared pumpkin sweet, with the visible strings, traditional in the region, and egg yolks, creating a dessert that could easily be a sweetness bomb, but wasn’t, just in the right amount. Delicate and Delicious.

The wine list contemplates all the main national references, with highlight to some older wines, the Douro wines and of course, the wines from Trás-os-Montes. And if in terms of crockery and silverware the restaurant is flawless, so it is in terms of wine glasses, with a selection of quality glasses for the most diverse wines. Harmonizing with this meal was the house’s white, Solar Bragançano 2013, produced at Douro, a light and fruity wine of easy tasting, and the Quinta da Leda 2011, one of the emblematic wines of Casa Ferreirinha, in one of its best years. A great, great wine, full of elegance and complexity that became the most perfect companion to these game dishes.

The service itself is also unique and follows the same steps of tradition, the kitchen marks the service times, and the dishes take as long as they need, because the boss is the fireplace and also the wood stove, and there’s no time for rushes in a place like Solar Bragançano. In the room and in a full house day, everything works normally, with a true sympathy typical from Trás-os-Montes and the unique hand of Desidério, who between suggestions, stories and some banter makes us feel at home!

Final Remarks

I can easily assume that Solar Bragançano, besides deserving the nomination and much more, is the standard-bearer of the gastronomy from Trás-os-Montes, an anthem to tradition and the visit card of Bragança. A room that joins ambassadors with native sons missing their taste memories, and travelers recommended by the most important guides. A restaurant where we travel through time, with dishes of distinguished flavor, cooked at low temperature with the roner and the sous vide replaced by the embers, candle light and silverware in an historical and charming environment that we don’t want to leave. It is, without doubt, a typical house from Trás-os-Montes, in which we are received not only as clients, but as part of the family, being served the best the land has to offer. I just wish I can return during the hunting season and taste all these dishes at their peak of excellence and shape; it will certainly be a delight. See you soon!

Solar Bragançano
Praça da Sé, 34 – Bragança
273 323 875

Versão Portuguesa

The described meal was offered by Solar Bragançano, whereas this not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

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