So…my friend and I were supposed to be at Lyle’s in London last week to celebrate our birthdays together.
Then…Omicron happened and London was out of the picture.
It so happened that several days ago MICHELIN Guide Spain and Portugal announced, in the auditorium of the beautiful Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, the 2022 Michelin restaurants in the Iberian Pennisula. Among the five newly awarded one-star restaurants in Portugal, there’s one in Lisbon. Its name is Cura, helmed by the 30 year old Pedro Pena Bastos, whose resume includes some of the best restaurants in the world, such as Geranium, Copenhagen; The Ledbury, London; and Belcanto, Lisbon.
I made a reservation and below was my experience.
The Location: The restaurant is located in the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, near Marquês de Pombal.
The Reservation: For party of 2 or above, reservations can be made online. Since I was going there by myself, I rang the restaurant to make sure it’s okay that I came alone. On the phone I also asked to be seated away from the other guests, to maintain social distancing when possible. I was assigned a table by the window, with a view of the open kitchen.
The Menu (QR coded): In addition to an a-la-carte menu, there are three tasting menus offered at dinner. They are MEIA CURA (a lighter version of the tasting menu), ORIGENS (full tasting menu) and RAÍZES (a vegetarian menu). I opted for the eight course MEIA CURA menu at 105€.
The amuse bouche was Chickpea cracker topped with Cauliflower purée spiced with Ras el hanout.
Followed by a tartlet of Beetroot, Pistachio and Elderflower; And a Sourdough croquette with Minhota Beef.
The one-bite tartlet burst with flavours. Beyond the crust, the tenderness of the beetroot paired seemlessly with the crunchiness from the pistacho, finished off with the scent of elderflower that lingered and set the tone for the next dish to come. Which was…
Cura’s signature dish Squid pasta in roasted Seaweed butter with Hazelnut, Caviar and Bergamot oil.
Such a delicate taste! The roasted seaweed butter delivered a nutty and umami flavour. But it was the use of the aromatic bergamot oil that took this dish to the next level. Be sure to pick up a titbit of every ingredient in one scoop for a lip-smacking experience!
The bread course came with the Cornbread crackers, Ancient Wheat Sourdough and Milk bread with Aged Butter from the Flores Island of the Azores and Green Olive Oil from chef’s own estate in Tomar.
My favourite was the incredibly light and fluffy milk bread. Just look at those beautiful air pockets.
For the fish course, I had the super tender filet of Red Mullet cooked sous-vide style with sauce made from Saffrons and fish bones. Decorated with Tagete or Marigold flower petals.
As always my curiosities for the ingredients were answered 😉
The meat course was the Alentejo Pork, different rendition of Turnips, Cashew purée, Orange, Green Garlic sauce and Bitter Leaves.
Then came the beautiful and delectable palate cleanser with Strawberries, Coriander and Elderflower
Which was not on my menu…
Earlier, I noticed that the dessert on my (lighter) menu was caffeine heavy (cocoa, black tea, etc). I asked if I could switch to this dessert off the full menu instead. The wonderful Monica told me that this was only a pre-dessert, while the real dessert (on the full menu) was pear – now I didn’t want pears – so I made the “difficult” decision to stick with cocoa and black tea. She must have caught my struggle. I was surprised when she brought me this and said that the chef would like me to have it. It turned out to be one of the BEST palate cleansers I’ve ever had. An interesting combination that was – the texture of the crystallised cranberries on the bottom, the fruitiness from the naturally ripe strawberries, the undertone of the herbal coriander, toyed with just enough floral notes from the elderflower…Although by personal preference I could do without the salty halophits, but the amount was adequate. Just a little sophistication it added and a new ingredient for me to be acquainted with.
While the official dessert on my menu was Cocoa, Mushrooms, Aged Black Tea Sorbet and Salted Caramel sauce
Followed by a decadent raspberry chocolate hazelnut cake, made special for the birthday girl 🙂
And the mignardises, laied out left to right: Tartlet of Figs & Cardamom; White Chocolate filled with Passionfruit & Eucalyptus; Pine & Pinenut muffin.
So full and so content.
After the meal, the chef stopped by to wish me happy birthday and gave me a box.
Inside was a loaf of the incredible light and fluffy milk bread and their Ancient Wheat sourdough. Yum.
Before leaving, I was given an elegant printout of the menu. I asked for it to be signed. Then, instead of one signature, the whole culinary team signed it for me. I like this emphasis on the team instead of individuality. This was undoubtedly one happy kitchen at work!
Thank you Cura for making it a memorable birthday celebration for me. I will be back!