Please excuse our absence from blogging over the last month. Our season is in full swing and we needed to dedicate our time to creating and finalizing itineraries across the Mediterranean. Now we are back! Starting with a few restaurant reviews from the BVT team. Enjoy!
When you approach the 5-star Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho, located in the town of Cascais on the Portuguese coast, it strikes quite an imposing figure. The 17th century fort cuts dramatically through the seaside panorama, which overhangs the local surfing hotspot of Guincho beach, a short ride from the central part of the village of Cascais, an easy trip from Lisbon.
The dining room at their 1-star Michelin restaurant, which shares the same name as the hotel and ancient fort, has a similar impression. It’s old school, heavy curtains and table settings with actual plates and cutlery and glasses, which is a departure from the newer trend of Michel starred minimalism. It feels a little old, like a “once upon a time” Michelin restaurant, but the friendly, easygoing service and whimsical, playful dishes provide a wonderful contrast to the heavier atmosphere. I like being surprised by restaurants, and it was one of my favorite dining experiences this year, Michelin-star or not, and hands down my favorite in beautiful Portugal.
The different tasting menus are mostly sea focused (sensible given the location), and on my visit, one of the appetizers was particularly interesting – a sardine skeleton, theatrically presented. The skeleton itself was the dish, it’s whole crunchy bit to be consumed. Though seafood is the star, one of my favorite dishes was the lamb, complete with intestines and innards slow cooked to perfection. I normally don’t jump at the chance to eat offal and tripe, but these were so tenderly cooked and so delicate that they actually wound up being my favorite part of the dish. One surprise after another, Fortaleza du Guincho also excelled at pairing local Portuguese wines with these unique plates.
From the shell shaped infused butter tasting at the beginning of the meal, to the “empanada and a beer” amuse-bouche, to the pinecone dessert, the entire meal was a fanciful, whimsical presentation of delicious local flavors and ingredients, and one that I very much look forward to visiting again.