• Elizabeth Middleton

FINE DINING IN PORTO, PORTUGAL


My husband has logged some serious frequent flyer points, and quite often I'll fly on points when he has business travel. On this occasion, we spent some time in the home of Port, Porto, Portugal.

New air routes and tourist friendly locals make Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, an easy destination for a long weekend and explore one of the most famous wine regions in the world. However, there is more to Porto than Port, a cosmopolitan food scene caters to palates longing for experiences to satiate the most demanding diners.

A few blocks away from the Rio Douro in Porto and away from the tourists feasting on Francesinha, sits a neighborhood restaurant that is quietly pursuing exceptional food complimented by superb local wines.

One Porto dining experience not to miss is Pedro Lemos. Superlatives come to mind to describe Pedro Lemos attentive service, exquisite plates and relaxing, intimate environment.

Currently in its fifth year, Chef Pedro Lemos opened his namesake restaurant in the very posh Foz Velha, one of Porto’s most beautiful and historical neighborhoods.

Pedro Lemos began his adult life as a civil engineer until he decided to pursue his dream and true calling in the kitchen.

He started in Porto and then moved to Lisbon and joined the team of Aimée Barroyer at the five star Pestana Palace. There he discovered a huge interest for Portuguese products and its history, which was essential to redefine his own style. The adventure continued through other experiences until arriving at Quinta da Romaneira, an awarded Relais & Châteaux property in the Douro Valley, as Executive Chef.

Returning on his own terms: “I’ve always loved the land, culture and traditions of Portugal,” Chef Lemos proudly offers.

“My kitchen is primarily based on quality products and compliance with the technique. I focus on the selection of my suppliers and I only use fresh, local and seasonal products.”

Temperate Mediterranean seasons and plenty of rain produce fruit in Portugal year round. Berries in the summer, Honeydew melons in July, Moscatel figs and plums in late August, persimmons in November, pomegranates in early December and tangerines, lemons and pears throughout the winter.

“Most vegetables I use are organically produced. I even have a small roof garden, which I also resource for my dishes.”

Sweet, delicate salad leaves and herbs, brightly colored peppers, juicy Heirloom tomatoes, all make it in one way or another onto the ever-changing seasonal menu at Pedro Lemos.

When Pedro Lemos isn’t in the kitchen, “you will often find me at the market where I personally pick the fish of the day.”

Not your stock standard pan fried fish sitting on a bed of vegetables, or a rustic country meal, nor will you find test tubes. Pedro Lemos kitchen turns out cuisine that is elegant and presented with finesse.

Time to dine

Pedro Lemos’s passion comes through in imaginative and delicious dishes. Even before the five course “Cinco Momentos” degustation menu begins (70 Euros per person, 35 Euros additional supplement with matched wine), an offering of house baked bread is served with a small dish of goat’s butter and another of olive oil jelly. Both sublimely melt in the mouth.

First course is a luscious and perfectly seasoned serving of foie gras, complimented with local nectarines and delicate house made brioche. Later is a Red Mullet and cuttlefish dish. Other highlights include Tuna from Azores with organic vegetables and poplar mushrooms, a fine protein dish of Mirandesa veal, gnocchi, white asparagus and sublime truffled potato cream. Dessert is a tribute to Portuguese bananas, a fruit available year round.

Chefs often talk about achieving balance. Perhaps it’s only just a word, but Pedre Lemos says he aims to “achieve the perfect harmony between all the components of the dish”.

A fine pairing

Pedro Lemos makes a special feature of food and wine pairing, an important part to the experience he offers.

“My tasting menus allows guests to discover a wealth of matching and contrasting flavors as they are taken on a journey through Portugal's diverse and varied wine regions,” said Chef Lemos.

FOIE GRAS | BARBEITO 1996 | HOME MADE BRIOCHE | NECTARINES MADEIRA BARBEITO VERDELHO 10 ANOS

RED MULLET | CUTTLEFISH | TOMATO | DARK SAUCE CHITAS COLARES BRANCO RESERVA 2010

TUNA FROM AZORES | ORGANIC VEGETABLES | PURSLANE | POPLAR MUSHROOM FILIPA PATO, FP BAGA 2013

MIRANDESA VEAL | GNOCCHI | ENDIVES | WHITE ASPARAGUS | TRUFFLED POTATO CREAM LAVRADORES FEITORIA, MERUGE TINTO 2011

BANANA | LAVENDER | MADEIRA WINE PEARLS GRAHAM’S TAWNY 30 YO

Awards

Not yet on the Michelin list, Pedro Lemos has been gaining local Portuguese recognition in the last few years. It will only be a matter of time before global fame descends.

  • “2 Soles Repsol” (Two Suns), in the Repsol Guide 2014, being the only restaurant in Porto with that distinction.

  • “Restaurant of the Year 2012” award by the Portuguese magazine “Wine”

  • “Restaurant of the Year 2011” award by the Portuguese wine magazine “Revista de Vinhos”

  • Best service and wine list by the “Portuguese Gastronomic Academy”

  • Best sommelier 2012 by the Portuguese magazine “Wine”

How to make reservations

Phone: +351 22 011 59 86 / Email: reservas@pedrolemos.net

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#Portugal #PedroLemos #travel #Calgary

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