Palatial Casa da Calcada is one of Portugal's understated historic hotels. It is therefore not surprising to find it has a stylish restaurant (Largo do Paco) with a talented chef (Vitor Matos) and attentive front house team. The ambience is warm with top quality furnishings and antiques.
The 70 euro menu was chosen (although there is both a la carte and a 100 euro menu).
A hot towel is presented, followed by a choice of four breads. At various times during the first half of the meal, a waiter offered further bread.
No less than seven bons bouches were served which must be a record! They included beef consomme, cream cheese and pumpkin, truffle and country sausage, salmon with fennel and beetroot with foie gras.
The first course was marinated mackerel, served with cucumber and frozen tomato water - ingeneous!
Quail, described as "sweet marinated", came with fois-gras cherry, beetroot and young onion, and was tasty and perfectly presented.
Grouper with 'Maronese DOP' veal oxtail was expertly cooked. It was accompanied by a citric creamy, roasted carrot, veal juice and fennel emulsion.
Bisaro suckling pig (one of Portugal's culinary specialities) was the main course; it was served with a sauce using Bairrada red wine from the Baga vine. To accompany the dish, vitelote (purple-coloured) potato, black pepper sauce, glacial ficoide and orange jam showed the skill of the kitchen. This was evidence of top European cooking with an imaginative flair.
Another bon bouche then arrived: fudge with cream
Then 'Abade de Priscos' pudding appeared with mandarine sauce, served ice-cream made using 10 years old Boal Madeira and hazlenut mousse.
Coffee and mignardises (marron glace) complemented a fine dinner.
There is an extensive wine list including wine made at the hotel's vineyard situated behind the property. A fine red Douro was chosen (Meandro 2011) which was poured well although it could have been decanted.
A memorable dinner!