“You have to try my restaurant in Gaia at Espaço Porto Cruz. Stop by the terrace first and then come down to DeCastro Gaia to eat,” advised chef Miguel Castro e Silva.
A few days later, we stepped out of the elevator on the top floor at Espaço Porto Cruz and wow, what a view! The waters of the Douro river flowed quietly below, saying farewell to the city on their way to the sea. Porto, dressed in bright light, was trying to sway the river to linger a little longer. The river margins were decorated with “rabelo” boats, the traditional vessels that, in times gone by, brought barrels of precious ports to be stored in the Gaia cellars.
It was hard to leave the gorgeous view, but we were curious about the gastronomical experience created by Miguel at DeCastro Gaia. So we went down one floor and sat at a table overlooking Porto.
Before the meal started, our waiter brought us a seductive white Dalva port that put us in a festive mood. Then, a velvety vegetable soup prompted us to say the first of many “oh, so good!”
The waiter filled our glasses with Contacto Alvarinho, a lively green wine made by Anselmo Mendes. It paired perfectly with our next dish, a lush artichoke and goat cheese salad. More delights followed. The turnovers made from phyllo dough, spinach, and alheira were wonderful. At first bite, they resemble a Greek spanakopita, but then the allure of the alheira surprises the palate. The codfish fried in batter (“patanisca”) melted in the mouth. Finally, the rooster fish with clams was fresh and oh, so good!
The menu offers old classics of Portuguese cuisine and new classics created by chef Castro Silva. What the menu does not reveal is the freshness of the ingredients and the precision of the confection. The Portuguese have an expression “tudo no ponto” that describes food that is perfectly cooked, seasoned, and sauced. That is what DeCastro Gaia offers. What more do we need?