With nearly three months under its belt, the restaurant has managed to consistently fill its tables night after night, and the reasons are abundantly clear.
This establishment, although not yet adorned with a Michelin star, brings forth an experience reminiscent of the highest echelons of gastronomy, all while maintaining astonishing affordability.
The ambiance is an artful fusion of coziness and sophistication, expertly designed by a Dutch visionary. Housing merely nine tables and a captivating open kitchen, even the restroom echoes the establishment's meticulous attention to design detail.
Meet Tomé Cardoso, the visionary behind Etxea, whose profound affinity for Basque cuisine is emblematic of the restaurant's name, meaning "home." With a culinary journey spanning the globe, Cardoso's passion for the Bask culinary tradition shines through.
His mastery extends to both meaty indulgences and compassionate vegan fare, inspired by his vegan partner. This makes Etxea a perfect gathering spot for friends with mixed dietary preferences. Noteworthy is that over 5% of his sales are already attributed to vegan options, and this trend is expected to rise due to the diverse crowd drawn in by the vegan offerings.
Having worked in prestigious kitchens, including a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Stockholm and the renowned Longevity Hotel in Alvor, Cardoso now proudly helms his own intimate establishment in the Algarve, relishing personal interactions with patrons.
Hugo, the host, who worked at Quinta dos Santos, exudes an extraordinary warmth, elevating the dining experience to extraordinary heights.
The menu is a symphony of choices: a daily 3-course menu at 25 euros, à la carte selections starting from 17 euros, and the enchanting tasting menu (also available in vegetarian or vegan) at 79 euros.
The culinary prowess demonstrated in the kitchen knows no bounds!
As we commenced our feast, an impeccably rich red wine set the tone. Its slightly warmer temperature allowed its complexities to flourish.
The ensuing gazpacho was divine, constructed from the finest Portuguese tomatoes. The chef himself proudly showcases these treasures tableside.
Main courses unveiled a Seitan Cataplana, featuring a harmonious medley of seitan, onions, and vibrant red bell peppers, seamlessly balancing spiciness with a delicate sweetness. Accompanied by tender new Portuguese potatoes, this dish was truly irresistible.
Additionally, the house-crafted smoked soya steak showcased both creativity and culinary mastery.
Dessert unveiled a caramelised pineapple sensation that left an indelible mark on our taste buds.
In summary, Etxea encapsulates the essence of "home" in this refined dining establishment. And indeed, that's the feeling that envelops you. From its enchanting atmosphere, intimate setting, and melodic soundtrack to its exceptional cuisine and gracious host, Etxea undoubtedly claims its place as one of the Algarve's finest culinary destinations.
Opening hours: 5–10 pm (Sundays closed)
Look for more information, photos and the menu:
Rating: 9.2 Price: $$ Vegan friendly: 5/5
Food 9.2 - Service 9.2 - Price/quality 9.2 - Atmosphere 9.3
Meet Peter Cruiming, an Algarve-based food blogger. Residing in Almancil with wife Marlot Anna, a professional photographer, and their 7-year-old son, Elyas. Explore daily Algarve dining stories at www.HotspotsAlgarve.com, focused on Peter's passion for healthy and vegetarian food. Photo by www.MarlotAnna.com.
The views expressed on this page are those of the author and not of The Portugal News.