Dining in Portugal: Casa Velha

Casa Velha is located in the middle of the Quinta do Lago resort with manicured landscaping and golf courses. Not a place we’d usually go for our vacation, but we went there for the restaurant. Due to the pandemic the choice is limited to two tasting menus: 4 courses for 85.50 euros or 8 courses for 110.50 euros. We opted for the latter, with wine pairing (7 glasses) for 60 euros. The prices are in fact listed as 80 and 105, but there is a 5.50 cover charge.

The amuse bouche were great: shrimp, dried tuna, crab toast, olive with pata negra…

…and raw tuna with spaghetti-shaped potato chips (crisps). We enjoyed them with a very nice glass of sparkling Alvarinho from Minho.

The first wine was an Alvarinho from Minho, fruity and crispy with a salty character.

The first course was oyster with raw shrimp, caviar, and plankton. It was an excellent pairing with the wine, especially with the oyster.

The second wine was an oaked blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Arinto from Bairrada with a nice balance between freshness and oak.

It was a good pairing with raw Lirio, a fish from the nearby coast, served with tomato, bell pepper, and gazpacho. The fish was impeccably fresh.

The next wine was a rare variety called Samarrinho from the Douro. The sommelier said it reminded him of Riesling and although it was less aromatic I could concur due to the minerality.

This was paired with smoked foie gras, dark chocolate, port, orange, and brioche. The smoked foie gras was nice, but the wine was a bit too dry for the richness of the fish. It wasn’t terrible, but a better wine could have taken this dish to a whole other level.

Another white from Douro, this time a blend of 40% Viosinho, 30% Gouveio, and 30% Rabigato.

It was paired with this vegan dish: celeriac ‘ravioli’ stuffed with parsnip puree, and served with mushroom broth and a toasted almond. The thinly sliced celeriac served as the ‘pasta’ of the ravioli. The mushroom broth had great flavor, but didn’t stick to the ravioli and so it was difficult to taste them together. The wine pairing was OK; a more earthy wine or even a light red would have been better.

This oaked Encruzado from Dão was quite nice.

It was an outstanding pairing for the blue lobster rice. “Arroz de marisco” is usually served quite soupy, but this was as dry as a risotto (but not as creamy) with a very flavorful lobster bisque. It was a generous amount of lobster (compared to the amount of rice) that was very tender.

The red wine was an oaked blend of Tinta Amarela, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz from Douro with a good balance between dark fruit, tannins, and oak.

It was a good pairing for the duck breast, served with sauerkraut of purple cabbage, beetroot ‘schupfnudeln’, and apple sauce (!). The beetroot dumpling didn’t taste of beetroot and the skin on the duck wasn’t crispy, so this dish was a bit boring.

The pre-dessert was a mousse of pear and port and was a bit bland.

The dessert wine was a sweet Madeira. Madeira is always acidic and comes in 4 different levels of sweetness. This is the sweetest version, made of Boal.

The dessert was chocolate and passion fruit with tonka bean ice cream. The passion fruit worked very well with the Madeira.

And finally some petit fours to end.

The cooking style at Casa Velha is mostly classic with some creativity like smoked foie gras and celeriac ravioli, but shines with a classic like the lobster rice.

The wines are not of a very high level, but are good and paired well.

The service was very pleasant and attentive.

Taken together Casa Velha is a reliable place to have a wonderful dinner. We certainly had a great time and felt very much at ease.

3 thoughts on “Dining in Portugal: Casa Velha

  1. I also would try avoid a restaurant sited within the perimeters of a resort . . . visitors being primarily there for other reasons . . . but I do take your point. I found the menu interesting tho’ it somehow deteriorated in ‘excitement’ as it progressed from rather appetizing amuse bouches to a few macaroons & ‘associated stuff’, I quite liked some of the plating . . . the main interest for me again was the perusal of the wines served and your description of them . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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