Restaurant Review: Porto, Portugal

Casa de Cha da Boa Nova


As waves crash on the rocky shores of Leça de Palmeira, and gentle Atlantic winds carry salty aromas inside Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, the division between space and time dissolves. Famed Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza built the Boa Nova Tea House in 1963, and restored it 50 years later to house chef Rui Paula’s grand vision, a minimalist space that honors nature’s inspiration. It’s worth the 20-minute drive from Porto to experience it: Here, every dish incorporates the elements surrounding the restaurant both in its ingredients and its plating. Thick chunks of juicy Wagyu beef nestle alongside four types of cauliflower—pickled, puréed, chopped and diced—and wild mushrooms appear on a transparent box of bright green lithophytes taken from the surrounding shore. Silky sea urchin brûlée is served within a spiky glass ramekin perched on a fresh bed of seaweed. It’s the gentle play between nature and cuisine that heightens each dish. Choose the wine-pairing option to get the most out of the tasting menus, or pick from the 800-bottle wine list deep in Portuguese wine. A personal favorite of head sommelier Carlos Monteiro is the Terrantez do Pico 2015. A tiny-production wine grown on the volcanic soils of the archipelago of the Azores, it unveils everything the sea has to offer: maritime aromas and bright mineral acidity to balance the chef’s fresh fish.

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