Portugal high-end dining
I'm looking for advice on good higher-end restaurants all over Portugal. I'm more into the crowded, simple places when it comes to the setting and service but I still want star quality food more or less. It seems most of the starred restaurants in Portugal are quite formal and feature traditional luxury and look a lot like this:
What I'm looking for is places like e.g. "Al pont de ferr" in Milan (1*) that I visited recently, a bit more low key:
Anyone who's been around and has got some suggestions?
Well, if you look at the 2 Portuguese restaurants with 2 Michelin rosettes, namely Vila Joya and Ocean at Vila Vita (one of the 7 restaurants of the complex)m yes they intend to be formal (you don't get 2 Michelin * otherwise (but Vila Joya at lunch time is very relaxed...)
In the Algarve, the 1 Michelin range is OK and quite relaxed, because you are in a holiday destination: São Gabriel, Willie's, Henrique Leis are all OK, but you could hardly called them crowded or simple... Your best bet would be a simple beach restaurant like 2 Passos or Gigi who serve very fresh fish, simply cooked.
In Lisbon, check some recent posts (Assinatura or Cantinho do Avilez spring to mind).
If you are in the Tomar area, Chico Elias would be an interesting place to go. Maria, the owner and chef, has been winning awards for her return to slow cooked traditional meals. The restaurant had numberous articles on the walls by Portuguese and Brazilian travel and food writers about the restaurant. Many of the meals such as rabbit in pumpkin are cooked in a wood burning oven. If you google the restaurant, you can learn more about it.
Near Evora, Herade Do Esporao, a winery, serves a delightful lunch. The dining room overlooks the vineyards and it is a very relaxed setting.
I would add A Cadeia and Sao Rosas both in Estremoz in the Alentejo region. star quality food, great service, and lovely ambiance. Not formal in a stuffy way, but you definitely feel you are "going out".
In Lisbon, one of our favorites was Largo -- also star quality food, great service and amazing setting. Again, not stuffy but special.