We drove to Alter do Chão in Alentejo to have lunch at Páteo Real, a restaurant headed by a young chef called Filipe Ramalho. Páteo Real means royal courtyard, a reference to the castle of Alter do Chão, which stands proudly in the restaurant’s backyard.
After working in fine dining for seven years, Filipe wanted to put the new techniques he mastered at the service of the traditional cuisine of Alentejo. When he learned that Páteo Real was for sale, he drove there on a Friday and closed the deal by Monday.
But this new beginning was tough. The locals suspected the restaurant would charge high prices for small portions of pretty food. Visitors were few and far between. One year later, it is difficult to get a reservation–the restaurant is full of visitors and locals. And for a good reason: its food is a delicious evolution of the traditional cooking of Alentejo.
We sat in the courtyard under large white umbrellas that protected us from the exuberant Alentejo sun. A waiter filled our glasses with “O Nosso,” a pleasant white wine from Serra Papa Leite. The meal started with Filipe’s signature dish: a tart cooked with farinheira sausage made with chestnut flour, topped with pears cooked in wine, quince marmalade, and chard. This unusual combination is so harmonious that it will likely become a classic.
A plate of sliced sausages followed the iconic tart. Alentejo’s sausages are generally excellent, but these are exceptional. They come from Salsicharia Canaense, an artisanal producer with whom Filipe collaborates. Their products also starred on the following two plates: cabeça de xara (a pork preparation) served with pickled purple onions and coriander pesto and delicately smoked bacon served with roasted red peppers, olive oil, coriander, paprika, and large capers.
Next, we tried some delightful duck croquettes served with puffed rice and coriander mayonnaise. The savory part of the meal ended with duck livers seared in brandy and combined with thinly-sliced fried potatoes. It is an explosion of flavor. “When we recommend duck livers and the clients hesitate, we offer a money-back guarantee,” said Filipe smiling. “People are always surprised at how good it is.”
The dessert was a delicious tart made from almonds and pumpkin jam. We loved the arch and rhythm of the meal. It kept our palates interested and left us deeply satisfied. It is a royal honor to dine in Filipe Ramalho’s courtyard!
Páteo Real is located at Av. Dr. João Pestana 37, Alter do Chão, tel. 960 155 363.
2 thoughts on “Lunch at a royal courtyard”
Ola Maria, Thanks for this post. Next time we head to Estremoz we will stop in Alter do chao for lunch, it looks fabulous. We have a country house near Viseu and are delighted to report that there is a wonderful new restaurant, Flora, in town (www.florarestaurante.pt ). Please give it a try when you are next in that area. João worked as a chef in London and decided to return home to Viseu during the pandemic. He and his partner Ana (who is German) have taken out a five-year lease on a small restaurant near the Se. He has refined unique flavor profiles using local in gradients in an inventive way. I think you would appreciate what they are doing on a small budget. And, they are really lovely friendly people. Hope you could give them a review.
I remain a big fan of your work – thanks for reporting on what makes Portugal an exciting place to be. Best, Denise Rousseau
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Thanks for the recommendation, we are originally from Viseu so we will follow up on your suggestion!