Alma means Soul in Portuguese, and chef Henrique Sa Pessoa has lots of it.
His restaurant is soulful and beautiful, so are his dishes.
For our lunch on Wednesday, April 12th 2017, we had à la carte menu for our family of three. Both adults chose the main course (monkfish with zucchini flower, green curry , coconut milk and baby shrimp) and our six-year-old son had a beef entrecote, celeriac, mousseline, bacon crumble and barbecue juice. We concluded with desserts: mango, passionfruit, coconut, black sesame seeds for the adults; and a chocolate « bomb », salted caramel, hazelnut, sorbet for the little gourmet.
Each dish was a pleasure to watch and incredibly tasty to the mouth, from the creative amuse bouche to the wonderful desserts.
The wine list has a comprehensive selection of best wine growers around Europe, and most importantly, incredible Portuguese wines some of which we selected.
We had mixed feelings about the service, though: the lady was very nice, even tried to speak a few words of French to us, but our bearded Maître d’ was very cranky, not welcoming at all when we showed up and extremely cold all the way through our lunch. He never even smiled once or said something nice. We were kind of taken aback by his behavior as it is not what you would expect of a Michelin starred restaurant.AlmaAdresse : R. Anchieta 151200-224 Lisboa, PortugalTéléphone : +351 21 347 0650www.almalisboa.pt/en
LAB By Sergi Arola was one of the restaurants that we really wanted to book when we decided to come to Sintra.
We discovered his frst restaurant in Barcelona 15 years ago, and when he opened Arola in Paris at the W hotel we went there to rediscover his unique cooking talent.
This time, we took advantage of our stay at Penha Longa Resort to eat at LAB where the chef just got one Michelin star. We were lucky, for our dnner on Friday April 14th 2017, Sergi Arola was present at the restaurant.
We chose the Discovery menu which was amazing from start to finish: every dish, every bite was indeed a discovery, especially his tapas madness that represented each region of Spain and his signature amuse-bouche, a glass of Vermouth with green olive, and most of all his Andean dish (Guinea fowl with a spicy couscous made with Andean grains) which took us on a trip to Chile was the most accomplished dish that showed Sergi Arola's talent and creativity.
The wine list was amazing, all the best wineries in Europe were represented, but we privileged Portuguese wines, especially the region and the wine growers that were unknow to us. It also had a great selection by glass from sparkling to red wine, from white wine to cherry.
The service was perfect and our sommelier, Francisco Oliveira was impeccable for approving our selection of wine by glasses.
However, we have to mention there was a major faux-pas from the kitchen of the LAB because one of our dishes, the skate wing, was served with a big plastic string still attached (!). Fortunately, my partner spotted it on time before eating the fish. Unacceptable for a one-star restaurant... Sergi Arola came in person to apologize for his team's lack of rigor.
Fortunately for LAB, we are not the Michelin inspectors and also we know Sergi Arola and appreciate his personality and talent that is why we did not make a big fuss of this unprofessional mistake.
We hope for Sergi Arola and LAB that this will not happen again.
LAB By Sergi Arola
Estrada Da Lagoa Azul
Midori at the Penha Longa Resort boosted itself to be the oldest Japanese restaurant in Portugal.
Yet, if your are looking for a Japanese chef, you'll not find him there! Instead you'll find Pedro Almeida, a wonderful portuguese chef, and his team fusioning portuguese ingredients with japanese techniques and japanese dishes with portuguese twists.
For our dinner on Tuesday April 11th , we chose the tasting menu simply called “Midori” consisting of seven dishes.
Chef Pedro Almeida knows how to combine a traditional portuguese dish like the Caldo Verde with the japanese touch of Miso Shiru. He did the same with all the dishes with dexterity and mastery. Every dish was subtle, delicate and tasty.
The wine list was very well thought through but very expensive, too expensive to our taste. Fortunately, there was a good selection of Sakes and we selected a sparkling one called Mio to go with our tasting menu.
The service was not on par with the level of the cooking: the staff was numerous, they were very nice but very disorganised which does not fit a high-end dining experience.
For this kind of place, as we mentionned to Pedro Almeida at the end of our meal, the staff should focus on the details, anticipate the guests' needs, and most of all, the chef should scale down the tables to accommodate a maximum of twenty people as Sergi Arola did at the restaurant LAB by Sergi Arola.
Pedro Almeida and his team are talented enough to make Midori one of the best restaurants in Portugal and as we told the chef: if he succeeds in making Midori into a true high-end gastronomy table, then we are pretty sure a Michelin-star will follow.
Estrada da Lagoa Azul
Sintra-Linho / 2714-511 - Portugal
Penha Longa Hotel and Resort is ideally located in the middle of a natural parc of Sintra, It's a five-star resort and probably one of the most beautiful resorts in Portugal.
Our stay from April 8th to 15th, 2017 was delightful but punctuated by small incidents due to a disorganised and an unstructured staff.
We spoke to Susana Mata, P.A. to the resort's General Manager, about those incidents and how a few little mishaps can spoil a great holidays for the guests. Below, are a few examples
of what happened to our family :
On our first night we were surprised to find our room without an extra bed for our six-year-old boy (even though we made a reservation through Expedia for two adults and one child) and when we asked for the extra bed we were told that there would be an extra charge of 40€ per night, which of course we did not agree to. Between the hotel and the travel agency, we don't really know who thought it would be OK for our son to sleep where? On the floor? With us? When we book a room for three, guess what: we expect the room to actually accommodate three.
One afternoon, we asked for a kitchen knife to be brought to our room, so we could peel an apple for our son. “Right away, Sir”. Half an hour later... we decided to go down to the reception to ask for it again.
When we checked out, our invoice showed a 73€ charge for dinner at the B-Lounge on our last evening on Friday the 14th 2017 even though we actually had dinner at another restaurant in the hotel: LAB by Sergi AROLA, which also showed on our invoice. After we mentioned the discrepancy to the staff, they checked the receipts, realised the mistake and apologized.
We also had to wait 30 minutes for a staff member to bring the car around. It would have been quicker to just go get the car ourselves. Thank God our flight was much later in the evening.
As we mentionned to Susanna Mata, a five-star hotel should focus on the quality of the service – quality is in the details -- and each guest should be treated as a valuable member and not just a customer or a consumer.
We hope our feedback will help Penha Longa Resort's management and staff improve, restructure and refocus on a service based on quality, not quantity.
Penha Longa Resort
Estrada da Lagoa Azul Sintra - Linhó 2714 - 511 Portugal
T: +35 1 21 924 9011
F: +35 1 21 924 9007
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