“Fine dining is an occasional treat for most people.” – Rene Redzepi
This is true for me. Although I love my food, I am not one to go to expensive restaurants,with cloth napkins and silver service. However, I found myself in one not long ago, when I had breakfast from the highest restaurant in the UK.
As I said; it is an exception.
When I found myself in Porto for my birthday recently, I decided I wanted to go a bit posh and have a fine dining experience.
In Porto, there are many wonderful places to eat, which served fine dining food. I can eat pretty much anything, although fish and seafood are off the menu for me (it’s just too fishy for me).
The trouble with finding a good place to eat in Porto was that I was travelling with a Vegetarian and someone who had many food intolerances.
In the end, we chose to eat the Astoria restaurant, part of the Intercontinental Hotel in Porto.
I was very impressed with them, from the minute we arrived to the minute we left. We felt very well attended to.
We had briefly dropped by earlier the same day, and explained our situation to the front of house, and they said that the chef would be happy to cater for us, even if it was not on the menu. We booked a table there and then.
During our dining experience, we were treated as if we were the only people in the restaurant. The chairs were pulled back for us, a waiter came with a drinks trolley, and made sure we had enough water on the table.
We were given plenty of time to decide what we wanted to eat, and they did really well to cater for my sisters, who were unable to eat certain things.
Initially we were served some hors d’oeuvres – a small bread roll (my sister was offered a gluten free option) with a platter of what the unrefined diner such as me would call dips. Garlic butter, egg yolk, olive oil and olive puree (I am sure there is a much more eloquent way of describing this)
Then came the mains. I was craving a good bit of meat, so decided to have a steak, which was cooked medium rare (as it should be), and served with potato Rosti.
When it came out, my sister exclaimed – “sure there’s nothing on that plate”.
But this is the true essence of fine dining – small but perfectly formed portions, and to be honest – it was more than enough by the time I finished.
We then decided that we couldn’t really leave, without sampling a dessert, which can often be the best part.
I had caramel fondant with sorbet, which was perfectly crunchy on the top, with the most divine caramel centre – a wonderful end, to a great birthday meal.
Overall, we spent 2 hours in the restaurant, and had a great time catching up with family, and eating good food.