The Oitavos is a magnificent 5* golf and spa hotel in the Portuguese town of Cascais, just a half an hour drive from Lisbon. I wrote a short piece for my Huffington Post blog but didn’t manage to cram in as much as I wanted. Eight hundred words isn’t enough to do this place justice.
One of the things I was most impressed with was the food on offer and with plenty of seafood, great meat and a larder of sun ripened fruit and vegetables on their doorstep, it’s easy to see why. But you can’t make great food without great chefs and The Oitavos has chosen well. At its helm is Cyrill Devilliers and his wonderful Pastry Sous Chef, Joaquim de Sousa who is a demon with desserts. There are two main restaurants on the site, along with a pop-up Japanese bar, a pool bar and the Chef’s Table, inside the kitchen, which can be booked in advance. The Ipsylon Restaurant & Bar serves traditional Portuguese and French food both from a bistro and fine dining menu. Starters from the evening Spring menu include Potato crostini; onion confit and double cream, bresaola and smoked milk (14€) Sweetbreads and crayfish, mushrooms and a tarragon perfumed light broth (28€) Oysters and shells ragoût, baby broad beans and basil (17€).
Raw and cooked vegetables salad, pig´s trotters croquette, truffle vinaigrette (18€).
Lobsters and other crustacea are kept in a large tank.
My ‘friend’ finished life in a dish with chervil butter, mushrooms and asparagus ravioli (45€). Meaty lobster, peeled perfectly from its shell with a delicate sauce, steam-rollered thin pasta and pencil-sharpened al dente asparagus. Divine.
The meat here, is as I expected, top quality and a great cut – my Black Angus matured tenderloin was huge, moist, juicy, a lovely charred exterior with a ruby-red centre. A mouthful of the plate contents to include the shallot compote, bone marrow, Morrelles, and red wine sauce was explosive (34€).
Bistro dishes are lighter and include tapas, salads, fish and meat. but I use this term loosely, the rocket, cherry tomato, salted shrimp and parmesan cheese salad (14€) was filling and kept me going until supper.
Like a time-lapse sequence from a nature film, this flower blooms at a rate of knots. The ‘surprise black flower’ (15€) comes on an iced plate, topped off with hot creme Anglaise. The temperature difference is so great that it causes the ‘petals’ to open. But it’s not all about theatre, this chocolate mousse has sour cherry sorbet and fruits for company, as well as edible fruits and is a great marriage.
I managed to get a red home thanks to the amazing Wineskin but didn’t get a look in. Mr snaffled the bottle in a few sittings. Berry on the nose, rich and plummy and a really nice example of a Portuguese red. Over at The Oitavos Dunes Clubhouse, in the Verbasco Restaurant the food is less formal but seafood is still plentiful. A really nice view to see both the course and the Atlantic Ocean, either sat inside our outside on the terrace.
Portuguese mussels either natural or in a garlic sauce came in huge bowls and were fat, a deep orange (10.50€).
Delicate slivers of fresh fish were laid on a plate like a child-like sun collage, all that it needed was a squirt of lemon to bring the wafer-thin ceviche of salmon, tuna and sea bass, to life (11€).
The classic octopus salad was a total joy (8.50€), grilled meaty chunks of purple leg meat are served almost naked, save for a dressing of the amazing Portuguese Olive Oil and a sprinkling parsley.
Vegetables were full of flavour, straight from the grill, helped along with a fat disc of Mozzarella and drizzled with pesto (15€).
Red snapper, flash grilled and served on a mound of rice and fresh, seasonal vegetables.
The breakfast is a great start to any day with so much choice on offer, eggs, a buffet of hot and cold meats, fresh cheese, fruit, pastries, Prosecco.
The food didn’t disappoint once and I’m not sure I can say that for all the hotels I’ve stayed in over the past few months. The menus showcase the kitchen’s competence and the dishes executed well. The atmosphere is relaxed and service prompt, but not overbearing.
The Oitavos, Rua de Oitavos, Quinta da Marinha, 2750-374 Cascais.