Lately, I’ve been so exhausted that I lost all inspiration and will to write, take pictures or even cook as much as I usually do. Work has been so hectic that if I could have spent every minute off work sleeping I would have done it! I could have invested this time to do something more creative but, no, my body decided it needed to sleep so I had to listen for a while and take a longer break than usual. But now, I’m back and ready to tell you all about Casa de Chà de Boa Nova!
As I mentioned before, one of our tradition when traveling is to try out one fine dining restaurant in the city. The challenge is to choose well and with time I learned to listen to myself rather than the hype. As soon as I stumbled upon Casa de Chà da Boa Nova I immediately fell in love with the architecture of the place.
Built in 1963 by Alvaro Siza, the house was meant to be a tea room in Leça de Palmeira, in the north of Porto. The building is stunning and feels like a natural extension of the landscape, really integrated into it. In 2013, the house was renovated and turned into a restaurant for Chef Rui Paula. Without really looking at the type of food served – I imagined it would be mainly sea food and I was right- , I decided I wanted to see this architectural jewel for myself and booked us a table there.
When booking, be aware that you’ll need to pay a 40€ deposit per person that will be deducted from your bill on the day.
When getting there, I instantly felt good in that restaurant. It felt like a home. The wooden interiors and the large windows looking out to the sea have definitely a massive role to play.
As soon as drinks were ordered and bread on the table we declared the feast open.
Talking about drinks, we caved in to Port Tonic (and didn’t regret it)! From the moment we stepped out of the plane, everyone seemed decided to make us try the local drink (which is basically Gin Tonic with Port instead of Gin). We had resisted up until then (what is this obsession with mixing wine with other beverages???) but the team at Casa de Chà convinced us. I have to admit, it was so good that we skipped wine and stuck to the delicious cocktail! The bread was also excellent. So good that Louis ate almost 5 full baskets….
We both opted for the Boa Nova menu, a 4 course menu mixing land and sea.
We started off with an amuse bouche that looked incredibly cute. It came in a little box. The salmon amouse bouche was rolled like a parchment and trapped in a tiny jar that looked like a message sent to the sea with a side of salmon enveloped in a sheet of nori. Really poetic and beautiful
It was followed by several amuse bouches served on a big pebble. I love the fact that they only had to walk a few meters to find rocks that can serve as plates!
I can’t really remember what they were, apart from the shrimp with coconut, but I do remember liking them all (yes, this article is extremely accurate).
Before starting the proper meal we had another 2 starters. I was so surprised to be served so many things before even starting our meal but I was not one to complain. This made me blissfully happy. The first one was made of sea urchin. I can’t really remember the taste or any particular feeling I felt about this so, I guess, it was just ok. I loved the sea urchin bowl though.
The second one was this scallop carpaccio with raspberries, blackberries and parsnip puree. It was just really refreshing and got us excited about the proper meal.
First up on the menu was a foie gras with smoked eel and dates. I had the choice between this dish and squid skewers but I rarely eat foie gras so I went for it. I have to admit I was anxious about this one because I am not usually the biggest fan of eels but what a wonderful surprise!
Not only did it look incredibly beautiful but it was also my favourite dish! It was perfectly balanced, the different textures, when eating a bite of the whole terrine, were really interesting and the smokiness of the eel worked so well with the foie gras.
We then moved on to the Monkfish with Hazelnuts and Champagne sauce. It was a good dish, the parsnip puree was delicious, the monkfish perfectly cooked but to be honest, I’m still looking for the champagne.
The Guinea Fowl, Buckwheat and Tarragon sauce was a very good surprise because I usually avoid ordering meat just because I don’t really like it. I also hate being annoying at the restaurant so I try to find things I could like while not asking the kitchen to make something special for me. So this time I opted for the Guinea Fowl. Once again, perfect cooking that kept the meat deliciously tender and the buckwheat moist. The tarragon sauce was also on point.
Before the dessert we got to visit the kitchen. I never say no to visit the kitchen because this is where the magic happens. I love seeing the environment where chefs create the dishes I enjoyed. Sometimes, the kitchen is so small that you wonder how they manage to create incredible food for so many people in such a small space. Casa de Chà da Boa Nova’s kitchen is a bit like that. It was first made to be a Tea house so the kitchen didn’t need to be big and when it was turned into a restaurant they had to work with what they had. While in the kitchen we enjoyed a quick snack matched with a delicious glass of port. It was a bite of goats cheese, honey and walnut placed on a traditional Portuguese tile. A classic, but such a good one.
We finished the meal with a dessert of Pecan nuts, Apricot mousse, Honey cream and Grape sorbet. This wasn’t at the level of the other dishes but it was still very tasty and a relatively light way to finish a big meal.
It was such a lovely meal made even better by the incredible settings of the restaurant. I mean how can you not enjoy your meal with a view like this ?
Casa de Chà da Boa Nova – Avenida da Liberdade nº 1681 4450-718 Leça da Palmeira
Boa Nova Menu (4 courses) – 90 €
Atlantique Menu (8 courses) – 125€
Land and Sea (8 courses) – 125 €
Best for: Lunch or early dinner in summer to enjoy the sunset
Comment: Don’t count on the public transportation to take you there, just hop on an Uber and maybe head to the beach after ?