Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne
An already very acclaimed fine dining establishment that has constantly evolved, year after year, providing a very consistent, rigorous, and steady history, whether in culinary services or choices of food.
It started as a smart restoration of part of an old ralway warehouse in Régua, which was close to being demolished.
Besides the creation of a huge high-ceiling room and beautiful timberwork, a lot of glass was added to let the natural light in along with the view of the neighbouring Douro river. On the other side we see a stop for the restless trains.
A mezzanine hosts the meal room, and in the lower floor, a long, broad room with a table that stretches out almost filling the room, and big majestic lights.
The walls are completely coated in cupboards holding the hundreds of references of wine brands, which compose one of the best wine lists in Douro.
They haldle their wine properly – with a lot of care. We can enjoy a glass of wine as we read a magazine or a paper, although we may go for a meal instead.
A meeting point, perhaps for a chat, and with wine for company.
Outside, an old transport carriage has been adapted and now makes a delightful terrace when the weather is good, bringing out the view of the train station.
Upstairs, the tables are always expertly laid, impeccable; the service is clearly above-average, availing of able and insightful professionals to guide us through a consistent and very well-interpreted cuisine.
Douro deserves such a restaurant. On our last visit, we had a peaceful, high-quality meal, accompanied of several wines served by the glass and chosen by the head waiter.
Regional bread, olive oil and olive oil with balsamic vinegar were brought to the table.
We began with a Vértice White 2010, which had been decanted; excellent, evolved, very elegant, creamy – a great wine. The years it spent in the bottle have only done it good.
After that came a partridge and penny-bun stew: extremely creamy, well connected, the refined poultry meat bonded well with the intense and dry flavours of the penny-bun mushrooms – excelent. The wine matched it perfectly.
Then followed some codfish with almond crust and prawn brandade. Au point, the brandade; very well connected and providing the softness of the shrimp; the flaked codfish and the detail of the almond crust were very successful.
We drank the Muxagat Xistos Altos White 2012, which was very mineral, elegant, intense, dry, slightly evolved, with beautiful acidity. It really did very well.
In contrast, still with the cod, we tried a red Encosta do Bocho Reserva 2009, which was a lovely surprise. The nose was full of fruit and notes of vanilla, slightly floral, and very complex. Beautiful volume, full-bodied, excellent acidity contrasting with ripe tannins that were well matched with the wood. With intense dark fruit, this is a powerful yet balanced wine. The year 2009 still manages to surprise me.
For dessert, we were given a volcano of pumpkin with queijo da serra ice cream (a cheese from Serra da Estrela mountain).
A true explosion of flavours, this reinterpretation of the sophisticated version of the classic connection of queijo da serra with pumpkin jam.
It was superbly accompanied by Casa de Santa Eufémia Reserva Branco Velho (white) Port, which is over 30 years old. A crystal-clear ambar, exuberant nose, intense nuts, elegance, tangerine peal, very refreshing. Beautiful volume, intense, vibrant acidity, dry, walnuts and hazelnuts, a lot of freshness, complexity, greedy; an excellent Port wine.
On our second glass, we toasted to this Castas e Pratos, to the wine, and to Douro…
Castas & Pratos
Peso da Régua | Portugal
Tel: (+351) 254 323 290