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“Illustrates that a Michelin star creates an expectation that can be difficult to fulfill.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Willies Restaurant

Willies Restaurant
Rua do Brazil, 2, Vilamoura, Portugal
289 380 849
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Ranked #55 of 154 Restaurants in Vilamoura
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Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Doing business, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Illustrates that a Michelin star creates an expectation that can be difficult to fulfill.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013 via mobile

We were pleased to find this Michelin starred
restaurant so close to the Hilton and went with high expectations .We were there during New Year week and found it to have a very pleasant ambience.Our food scallops,venison and steak were all cooked perfectly and we had very attentive service. However it is quite an expensive experience and although the food is very good it lacked the originality and flair we would expect from a Michelin restaurant.The chef and staff were friendly and provided you go expecting international food of good quality you will not be disappointed.

    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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130 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    64
    29
    26
    6
    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Dublin, Ireland
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
“Overrated, never felt like we got a good deal..”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2012

I've gone to Willies at least 3 times and while the ambiance, atmosphere & service are undoubtedly top class the food is good without being outstanding and Couleur France in Almancil is twice as food for less money!

Visited September 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
El Dorado Hills, California
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“excellent michelin star restaurant adjacent to the Hilton”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2012

We had dinner here last week - group of 14. It was fabulous. The service was outstanding. The food was excellent - absolutely the best in Vilamoura. The price is also very reasonable for a restaurant of such quality. I had the chicken curry soup to start with which was great. Everyone's dishes were prepared as requested and were excellent. We had one vegetarian which was also given several options. A must try if you are in Vilamoura.

  • Visited October 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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München
Top Contributor
185 reviews 185 reviews
82 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 73 cities Reviews in 73 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
“Relaxing and excellent dining”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2012

Willies is located just behing the Hilton hotel. You can dine outside and enjoy a fancy dinner in relaxing atmosphere. More classy crowd compared to the touristic crowd down at the Marina.
It is the only Michelin star restaurant in Vilamoura and it lives up to that standard. Of course you can expect to pay twice as much for dinner as elsewhere, but this is no surprise.
I loved the coquilles St. Jacques for the main course.
Friendly German chef.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Crewe
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 59 cities Reviews in 59 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
“The worst Michelin starred restaurant I've experienced sof far.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2012 via mobile

We visited Willies the day after we'd had lunch at Vila Joya. I won't reiterate the intro that I wrote for my Vila Joya review (see Vila Joya Restaurant - "based on food alone, a disappointment" Sept 2012).

We'd heard good things about Willies, so despite the food at Vila Joya not living up to its elevated 2 star rating, off we went to Willies for dinner, for a dose of 1 star cuisine.

I will not set off in a tirade of negatives, I will do the chef the favour of sparing him the embarrassment simply because he had the manners to come out to try and explain everything. I will simply detail how it was.

The nibbles, that were delivered to the table, to accompany the pink Portugese champagne, were straight out of packets. I could have bought them at a local supermarket.

The amuse bouche was a rolled, thinly sliced piece of veal on a little pool of chutney, with a pile of salad leaves. British gastro-pub fare.

The service was sloppy and matter-of-fact, the maitre d' had a weird sense of humour that obviously, on that night, fell flat more often than it scored a hit with the people who were paying for his services.

For me, the white asparagus soup, which I paid for as an extra course, and the jus which accompanied the lamb were over seasoned. The chef didn't agree. He did change the soup. When he came out to us at the end of the meal, he commented on the seasoning. He said for him it was OK. Trouble was he wasn't paying for the meal, I was!

First principal of cooking: you can add salt, when it's under seasoned, but you can't remove it when it's over done!

The one good thing about the whole experience was my lamb. It was superbly cooked. My partners duck dish was distinctly average.

Now we come to the reasons why I've rated this restaurant so lowly............Dessert!

When our dessert order was taken the staff knew that we were underwhelmed, sitting at our table with a creased table cloth. (That's 2 out of 2 for Michelin in Portugal!)

My partner ordered a chocolate fondant, I ordered a a "trio of passion fruit".
My partner said to the waiter, who took our order - "lets see if the chef can cook a fondant".

Our desserts were duly delivered to our table, under the watchful eye of the maitre d', she cut into her fondant and exclaimed - "It's cake". This was the point that I went "off on one". I mean a Michelin star kitchen that can't deliver a chocolate fondant! The contestants in the British TV series "Professional Masterchef" are castigated for not delivering a true fondant. I was being asked to pay for cake.

The chocolate fondant was taken away and replaced with a properly cooked chocolate fondant, 12 minutes later.

During the 12 minutes that elapsed my "trio of passion fruit" dessert had been left in front of me, which meant that the sorbet had melted and swamped the passion fruit cannelloni so that the bottom half was soggy. The whole dish was ruined.

When events similar to this have happened in other restaurants all the dishes, in the course, have been taken away and represented in pristine condition. Mine was left on the able to melt. I had cannelloni in passion fruit soup!

I simply looked at my partner and smiled, enough was enough, I didn't have the will to remonstrate further.....the whole dessert course was a disaster.

We had coffee and petit fours which were just a selection of chocolates/sweets thrown on a plate. There were one of each.

In quality restaurants the petit fours are delivered in pairs...why? So that each diner can enjoy one of each. A shared experience. The Willies' way means that only one guest can experience each individual sweet.
The technical expertise displayed in the petit fours was poor, in keeping with the amuse bouche.
I can prepare one strawberry dipped in chocolate, catering school stuff!

Well, the cost of the meal and a bottle of of Quinta del Baccalhoa, was over 240€. Was this Michelin 1* food at it's best? No!
Did I feel the meal was value for my money, an assessment, that's difficult when one assesses haut cuisine at the highest level............... No I did not!
The meal, I paid for, at Willies was not haut cuisine nor indeed was it of Michelin star standard, actually it wasn't even "Bib Gourmand".
If asked "Would I eat there again......." You have got to be kidding me!" I wouldn't go back to a gastropub or brasserie that had provided us with this food & experience.

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