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Bago du Vin

Intercontinental Cascais-Estoril, Portugal

With a list of more than 100 wines and a spectacular view of the bay of Cascais, Bago du Vin is the kind of place to sit back and enjoy one of those lunches that last well into the evening. The design and decoration follow the modern and sophisticated style of the rest of the hotel. And the clean lines and soft, neutral shades contribute to the serene environment of the restaurant and terrace, which has the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop.

On arrival, we were treated to a cocktail by mixologist Filipe Figuereido. Given the balmy temperature, I thought an ice-cold Margarita would go down a treat, which it did. Deciding what to eat was much more difficult. Executive Chef Pedro Lopes’ menu is an expression of the magnificent local ingredients that both land and sea offer in every season. It’s a vibrant mix of traditional Portuguese food – which Lopes learned from his mother and grandmother – and contemporary creative influences from all over the world.

As we couldn’t decide, our waiter brought a variety of dishes to share, among them a wonderful octopus carpaccio and sweet potato purée dressed with Portuguese vinegar sauce from Algarve. The combination of textures is delightful, and the sauce brings the flavours together as if in a hug.

From left, Octopuss Carpaccio, Shrimp Mozambique, and Bacalhau à Brás.

I loved the shrimp Mozambique sautéed with garlic in DOP olive oil. This is a classic Portuguese dish inspired by the spices and flavours of Africa. The succulent and sweet shrimp are shimmered in a bold sauce made from beer, garlic and spices. I could have eaten them all.

The fresh ceviche of sea bream in leche de tigre – the spicy, citrus-based marinade used to cure and flavour Peruvian ceviche – had the perfect consistency and balance, so the lime juice mix was nice and thick, and the chilli present, but not overwhelming.

For a main course I chose bacalhau à brás, a typical Portuguese dish with de-salted shredded cod, onions and very thinly cut fried potato strips, all bound with scrambled eggs and garnished with black olives and parsley. Chef Lopes elevates this traditionally modest dish to the level of fine cuisine.

Belgian Chocolate Sablé with pistachio and vanilla ice cream.

Although not as appreciated as they should be, Portuguese wines can be spectacular. A good example is the one we had in our lunch: Niepoort Quinta de Baixo Vinhas Velhas 2014. This delightful white from Bairrada (a DOC halfway between Lisbon and Porto) surprises with its light texture and great acidity. Limestone notes interlace with lemon, quince and kiwi flavours to complete this refreshing and elegant wine. It paired beautifully with our seafood dishes, enhancing the rainbow of flavours.

Unfortunately, I could not make space for a whole dessert, but my companions let me taste a tiny spoonful of theirs. One was a mango and passionfruit dacquoise entremet with mango sorbet. The nutty and biscuity sponge was perfectly crispy on the outside and slightly chewy inside, while the sorbet was sweet but refreshing, almost floral. The other was a perfect Belgian chocolate sablé with pistachio and vanilla ice cream. I am definitely coming back if only to have more pudding.

Tel. +351 218 291 100

Email: reception.estoril@ihg.com

Words: Julia Pasarón

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