Restaurant Review – Pousada Palacio De Estoi
In a lovely break from the frugality of January, a relative treated us to the delights of Portuguese fine dining at the restaurant of the Pousada Palacio de Estoi a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time we had visited Estoi Palace and we were delighted to meander through several richly decorated rooms on the way to the restaurant. From the glimpses of grandeur that we were treated to, this is definitely a building that I would like to return to for a fuller exploration at some point.
On the night we dined at the palace restaurant, there was just one other occupied table, which provided a delightfully exclusive feel to the evening’s proceedings. The menu was varied and included a good range of options for the vegetarian in our party, which is not always a given in Portuguese restaurants. The wine list also presented a good selection.
Before our starters arrived, we were treated to a delicate, bean-based amuse bouche, as well as a selection of freshly baked rolls and garlic-infused olive oil.
Several of us opted for the seafood crepe to start, which was beautifully presented and contained a generous helping of mixed crab, prawns and scallops. Others in our party chose the goat’s cheese gratin, which was delicious and probably the highlight of the starters that we sampled. The clams were also very good, though perhaps a little on the salty side for some tastes.
We tried out a variety of main courses, including the pasta with wild mushroom sauce (simple but very tasty) and the wild boar stew (a hearty dish packed with rich flavours). While the lamb leg was perhaps a little less tender than would have been ideal, the duck supreme with red fruits sauce was delicious and perfectly cooked.
Portions sizes were substantial, meaning that only I (with the excuse of eating for two) ordered a dessert. I’m extremely glad that I did. The fig parfait, which came accompanied by wild fruits sorbet in a caramelised sugar basket, was one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted – and I’ve eaten an awful lot of puddings over the years!
Another highlight deserving of a mention was the Irish coffee. Though this seemed to cause some confusion initially (the waitress disappeared to check with the chef that it was ok for us to order it), the drink that eventually appeared was so good that it was passed around the table for everyone to try. Even those who weren’t partial to whisky were impressed.
Overall, this was a wonderful meal and somewhere that I would be more than happy to eat again. At around €50 per person, it isn’t one of the area’s cheaper dining options, but it really is excellent value for money considering the standard of the food and the service.