Acclaimed Chef Jose Avillez takes us through a Portuguese journey, through his 15 course tasting menu, at Belcanto, his 2 Starred Michelin Restaurant.
In its most simplest description, gastronomy, is the art or science of good eating. But in reality it’s so much more than that. A good gastronomical experience will introduce you to flavors you’ve never tried, techniques that are unique and different and most importantly show you the passion of a great chef. To make this experience great, a Chef has to transport their guests into an era of their choosing. They need to produce edible art, from the most modern of bites to reviving an ancient recipe. The Chef needs to have passion, patience and and eye for creativity and in the end - the ability to make really good food.
Belcanto has an incredibly creative menu that focuses on local resources infused with the creativity of Jose Avillez. It’s the brilliance of Chef Avillez that makes the simply described dishes such as roasted chicken, sardines with bell pepper and clam and codfish exciting and completely unexpected. You’ll eat an olive that’s not really an olive and search for edible rocks in a medley of actual rocks. At Belcanto, you won’t just eat a meal, you’ll experience art in an edible way.
What Your Meal Will Be Like
Completely booked for dinner, we were thrilled to get a reservation for lunch. Our menu was the “Discoveries Menu” which took us through the history of Portugal starting from 1415 and ending in the 21st century. Although the cuisine is considered Portuguese, the tastes and flavors are far more complicated to be confined to one region. “This menu was conceived to give a global panorama of the discovery period and in a sequence of surprising dishes, we celebrate our history and move forward, by land and sea, to the 21st century…” says Avillez.
Each dish was an artistic representation of a playful nature scene, depicting the love and respect Avillez has for nature. Most of the time, I wasn’t sure what I was eating, yet every dish was delicious and incredibly exotic.
El Bulli Olives - An obvious favorite of Avillez (they’re served at some of his other restaurants as well) are completely out of this world. What looks like an olive, turns into a liquid explosion the moment you close your mouth. Eaten in one bite, it’s like having the perfect dirty martini.
Clam and Codfish xerem (FIX ’ over e) - Avillezs' love to make things explode and in this dish the clams explode into lovely salty tastes. When paired with the wine, this salty dish becomes very balanced and delicious.
Sardine with Bell Pepper Tomato and Yeast Emulsion - Typically I'm not a fan of sardines, but Belcanto has changed my mind on what these fish can be. This dish was served cold accompanied with cucumber granita. Every bite was salty, peppery, citrusy and when paired with the local beer Lovina, became fantastic. It felt like the perfect gourmet pub food!
About the Experince
Whether you’re eating lunch or dinner, the menu will be the same. Make sure to come hungry (our menu was 15 courses) and with plenty of time to relax and enjoy your meal, as this is not a place to try and rush through. Our menu was heavily focused on seafood, however the menu is known to change, so if you have any allergies simply call ahead.
Don’t hesitate when trying to figure out what to pair your meal with….just order the wine pairing and let the professionals guide you. You’ll get 10 glasses of wine from all over Portugal, including tastings from Porto, Douro and Vinos Verdes.
In case you can't get reservations or you're looking for something a little more casual, Chef Avillez also has Mini Bar. Mini Bar is like a gourmet gastro pub, where you can sample Chefs creative dishes for a fraction of the cost at Belcanto!
To make reservations at Belcanto, make sure to visit their website: