It was an unexpected pleasure to dine at Avenida in Lagos, a beach town in the Algarve, the southern coast of Portugal. Most restaurants in Lagos are aimed at tourists and we did not expect to find a restaurant here that is worthy of a Michelin star. We stumbled upon it and are really glad that we did. We only found out that the chef Roeland Klein is Dutch during the meal. Avenida describes itself as: “We serve globally inspired cuisine with locally sourced products”, and that is an accurate description. We had the tasting menu of 6 courses for 69 euros, but it is also possible to eat à la carte. A fixed wine pairing is not available, but there is a large selection of wines by the glass and a knowledgeable sommelier who creates a personalized pairing for you. We ended up paying around 45 euros for 5 glasses.
The presentation of the bread sets the expectation of what is to come. The salt and olive oil are served in an oyster shell, and instead of just butter there is butter with truffle and butter with yuzu zest. The bread itself is good (but not great) sourdough bread.
The first wine is a sparkling wine from Bairrada, made with the traditional method, of the Portuguese grape varieties Bical, Arinto, and Cercial. It has aromas of crushed apple and a good balance.
The amuse bouche was blini with bone marrow, freshened up with citrus.
The first course was tuna tartar with pumpkin textures and pumpkin seed pesto. The combination of tuna tartar with pumpkin seeds was very nice, both in flavor and in texture. The pairing worked very well. 8/10
The second wine was a dry Moscatel from the Douro. It had the characteristic aroma of Muscat, but was very elegant.
The second course was a grilled sardine with tomato concassé and tomato dashi. A very nice combination and a very good wine pairing. 9/10
The third wine was a rosé from the Azores. It had great minerality and otherwise reminded me of a rosé from Provence.
The rosé was a good pairing for a ‘canneloni’ of cecina, stuffed with beef and scampi tartar, and served with cucumber carpaccio. Cecina is dried beef, in this case similar to Bresaola. Very nice indeed. 8/10
The fish main course was cod with octopus, samphire, and a bisque enriched with saffron. The cod and octopus were perfectly cooked and the bisque was very flavorful without being overpowering. The sommelier suggested we stayed with the rosé and he was right, as it was a great pairing. 9/10
As a wine for the meat main course we had a 2011 Alfrocheiro from the Tejo region. Softened tannins due to the age, but still fruity.
The main course was pigeon breast with confit of pigeon leg and seared foie gras, sunchoke puree, and a sauce of beetroot and kaffir lime. Both pigeon and foie gras were perfectly cooked and the combination of them with the sauce was delicious. The wine pairing was great as well. 9/10
The pre-dessert was a grapefruit and campari sorbet.
The dessert wine was a Moscatel Roxo de Setúbal.
It was a great pairing for the dessert: white and dark chocolate with strawberry and garlic. 8/10
This meal was easily worth at least one Michelin star. With a total check of 232 euros for 2 that is a bargain and fantastic value for money.
The chef and sommelier clearly have the talent for the restaurant to gain a Michelin star. I rate both food and wine overall at 9/10, which isn’t bad for a restaurant with even two Michelin stars. The service is not like a restaurant with a star, but the service certainly isn’t bad either, and very friendly.