Fine Dining

An unexpected Asian expedition at Restaurant Ocean

Overlooking the Mediteranian in the beautiful resort Vila Vita Parc restaurant Ocean shines with two bright Michelin stars over Portuguese cooking. Hans Neuer has explored the food from Portugal and all of its previous colonies to discover its reach and influence. The current menu takes a trip around its Asian colonies such as Macao and Thailand.

The first dish did however start with something as classic as a pastel de nata. A dish that was inspired by the fact that their very first flight for their reesarch trip was delayed allowing for one last pastel de nata.

From here we would move on to a cold soup of bel peppers served with a beautiful cracker with otoro (Tuna belly) mustard and miso. The use of mustard seeds gave unexpected heat to an otherwise classic combination. Surprising and delicious.

Surprising is also something that can be used as description for the next dish of wasabi ice cream. I loved both the flavor and the texture. On the same dish was a Thai inspired snack of shrimps, coconut, kafir lime and caviar. The addition of the kaffir lime cut nicely through the flavors and brought balance to the dish.

The next dish had without a doubt the most beautiful presentation. In the middle of a lotus flower you had different color trout roe covering king crab and a delicious ponzu hollandaise. A surprising match of flavors and one that really worked.

I love when humble ingredients are mixed with luxurious ones. At this next one it was green beans and morels in two different variations. The models were served with crispy tempura and sand smelt fish.

Koji and yuzu is a great combination. Here it was paired with langostine for nice flavors and amazing textures.

The use of spices were almost always subtle and they would be for the dish called “one night in Bangkok” as well. Great quality prawns were matched with both kohrabi and kampot peppers. The use of sour elements like kohlrabi was a repeated in general throughout the menu and I really think it worked as it brought unexpected flavors and often times balance as well to the dishes.

We would stay with a bit of spices but this time from kimchi served with quail and a bit of tofu. The heat and sourness worked very well together once again.

As it is year of the dragon in China the first dessert would tribute to that. Served with gooseberry and miso it had nice flavors and great presentation. I was however a bit surprised by the presentation of the last dessert called tamarind. Bigger than 

The menu not only takes you through the Portuguese colonies, but also experiences from the teams travels to discover these. The menu is therefore wrapped in funny anecdotes from a cancelled flight that led to a final pastel de natal, to a late arrival at a Tokyo restaurant which led the chef not to talk to the team for the duration of the menu and more. This small stories wraps up the menu nicely and creates a deeper connection which is usually not found in hotel restaurants. The menu is well executed both technically and the flavors. I particularly liked the use of heat  from both wasabi and mustard seeds as well as their play with temperatures in the wasabi ice cream. These were often paired with deeper flavors in otherwise light dishes which I really loved. To me that was probably his Austrian background shining through.

Being in Portugal we would naturally have a wine menu featuring lots of very interesting wines which were fully able to live up to the rest of the meal.

Practical information 

Location: Vita Hotel Algarve 

Head chef: Hans Neuer

Menu: 14 course tasting menu €275

Website : The Art of Dining

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