The name of the restaurant A Ver Tavira literally means “to see Tavira”, which makes sense, because the restaurant offers a view on the town of Tavira in the eastern Algarve. There are three tasting menus starting at 50 euros. We opted for the largest one, the “Fauna Marinha” (sea fauna) menu of 7 courses for 90 euros with wine pairing for 50 euros.
But first an aperitif: a Portuguese sparkling wine. This time not from Bairrada, but from Douro, and made from Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Viosinho, and Touriga Franca. It is complex and elegant.
The amuse bouche is a tasty cod cake.
The first wine is an unfiltered Alvarinho, a bit in the style of a ‘natural wine’.
It is an excellent pairing with the first course of cold smoked mackerel with ‘false’ tomato, fermented cucumber, and ‘mackerel oil’. I suspect the latter is made with squid ink. The smoked mackerel is very nice.
The second wine is a blend of Arinto and Alvarinho from the Algarve.
The second course is oysters and squid ‘puree’. The squid is very tender and the dashi quite sweet. That sweetness accentuated the bitter notes of the wine, which I didn’t like.
The next wine was an Encruzado from Dão and had a marked acidity, which in such a hot climate is a sign of craftmanship of the wine producer.
It was paired with sea bass, served with rice in a ‘sautéed fish’ sauce that reminded me of arroz de marisco. The fish was nicely moist with a crispy skin.
The next wine is a rosé from Douro that is made like a white Burgundy with aging in barriques and battonage from a blend of predominantly Mourisco, Rufete, and Touriga Nacional. The wine tastes more like a white wine than a rosé and (again) had a high acidity.
The next course is delicious tuna, served rare, with pork, smoked octopus eggs, and ginger. The pairing is only ok, as the dish doesn’t need the acidity of the wine. The tuna is great though.
The next wine is a blend of Bical and Maria Gomes (yes a grape variety with a woman’s name) from Bairrada. Again with high acidity, it seems that the sommelier is fond of that.
Unfortunately this wine doesn’t work at all with the turbot, served with salsify and mushrooms. The astringency of the wine was accentuated by the creaminess of the sauce.
The sommelier noticed I wasn’t pleased and came to ask if everything was to our liking. I explained the wine was too acidic for the dish and she immediately came with a great replacement, a Malvasia Fina from Minho. The wine was delicious and worked very well with the dish.
The pre-dessert was a fruit sorbet.
The dessert was paired with two wines:
A Spanish wine, a Pedro Ximenez made as an orange wine and thus not as syrupy as regular PX but more elegant and actually having the aroma of orange.
And a crusted port, which is a type of ruby port and quite fruity.
The dessert was chocolate and ice cream of red fruit. The chocolate was paired well with the PX and the red fruit with the port.
The food of chef Luis Brito is creative, delicious and beautifully presented. The dishes are of a constant good level.
Although the sommelier is his wife, they do not work together as sublimely as Jonnie and Therese of the Librije. The wine pairing features great wines and is excellent value for money, but I think the pairings can be improved upon. From the descriptions given of the wine pairings it appears that the wines have been chosen based on a match of aromas. However, the mouthfeel is even more important when pairing wine and food. This was done optimally only for the mackerel and dessert, and for the turbot with the alternative wine that was provided. The high acidity of most wines was accentuated by the very cold serving temperature of 5C/40F.
The service was very attentive and very friendly.