Reminiscent of an invitation to dine within the inner temple of the kitchen in the Oitavos Hotel in Cascais, I have to thank Chef Sebastian Fratye for such an experience.
It may not be overly exaggerated to view the experience of dining at the Chef’s Table as akin to that of a classical concert – sizzling pans, knives on cutting boards and bubbling pots weaving their melodies to produce a culinary crescendo – with the listener enjoying the benefit of ‘tasting the music’ afterwards.
Extending the metaphor, an overture of black eyed bean salad with dried tuna and a sprinkling of red pepper and red onion swerved as a prelude to greater things to come, the salty tuna complementing the earthy, full-bodied beans.
A second starter of sweetbreads and crawfish in a tarragon and Muscatel sauce was a fine example of how almost anything can be combined if knowledge and skill is aplenty.
Then came the soft, mellow tones of scallop, lightly kissed on a hot pan flavored with butter, garlic, coriander, mustard and lemon confit – a well-performed adagio.
And the climactic finale – 40-day matured Portuguese Black Angus steak accompanied by an aromatic Douro red wine from Vila Regia, which Nuno Antunes, the F&B manager, said emerged from the vineyards the Champalimaud family own in northern Portugal. The encore: a dark chocolate dessert that literary opened its petals before us as pastry chef Joaquim de Sousa delicately dripped his sweet, creamy sauce over it.
If you did not believe in magic before, watch this. And if you did, you see how right you are.