Portugal isn’t famous for its naturally vegan cuisine, and chefs who have earned 2 Michelin stars normally didn’t earn this accolade due to their plant based culinary skills. So it might come as a surprise to hear that we had one of the most delicious meals (ever) at The Yeatman’s Gastronomic Restaurant, where Chef Ricardo Costa and is team excelled themselves and gave us a fully vegan version of their highly acclaimed culinary experience. This was a meal that was a journey for the senses, full of surprises and quite simply full of delicious vegan food.
The first thing to note at the Gastronomic Restaurant is that you’ll be eating what is sure to be one of your ‘best meals ever’ in a mellow ambience (no stuffy vibes here) paired with friendly, attentive and informative service. Enjoy the stunning views of Porto old town and the Douro River, including a picture postcard sunset if you’re lucky, then sit back ready to enjoy your very own adventure of the senses.
The Vegan Food:
There were numerous courses of expertly plated food delivered to our table, with so many extra unexpected offerings that it was easy to lose track of which course we were up to; this in itself was a wonderful part of the adventure though.
Dishes were creatively presented offering wonderful surprises each time the waiting staff approached. A glass contained a take on tomato caprese with fresh tomato flavours, icy tomato water shards and an emulsion of oil and basil. Tomato foam, sorbet and the icy tomato shards sprinkled with sea salt all combined to create something light, fresh and zingy.
This was part of a selection of ‘The Yeatman Snacks’, a collection of small delights like those served on a glass dish which housed a tiny beachscape. There were mouthfuls of delicious creations with bursts of flavour from perfectly seasoned tomatoes, a gently warmed zucchini sandwich with a satisfying mustard flavour. Lively sour kumquat flavours mingled with creamy sweetcorn and nutty avocado, some red onion spiciness and earthy coriander oil.
A nod to local heritage was provided with a mini-wine barrel housing discs filled with guacamole and single delicious mushrooms, and again with a peanut nacho served on a cork bark (which accompanied perfectly warmed avocado wrapped in filo, served on warmed stones). Crispy pastry, toasty nutty avocado, the nacho light as air; we could have probably polished off many servings of these tasty morsels.
But as with all meals of this kind, it never pays to get stuck on the first few appetising deliveries to your table as there are always more surprises and delights around the corner and this meal was certainly no exception.
A coconut shell smeared with a smoky chilli paste contained a creamy velvet cauliflower curry with subtle spices, asparagus, cauliflower and rocket sprouts. Hints of lime, salty, smoky chilli paste and the coconut based curry was certainly differently to the punchy curries we’re used to in Southeast Asia but needless to say the quality of execution made this a soothing dish to devour.
Returning to more local flavours we were served a bowl of seasonal miniature vegetables in a sweet peppery broth served with rustica bread and olive oil that was so good we headed straight out to purchase some in the hotel shop the next morning. Sweet iron rich cabbage flavours, crisp dehydrated green leaves, baby turnips and the tiniest carrots we have ever seen made this a delicate display of nature’s seasonal offerings.
Aubergine baked with curry and served with almond and romesco sauces was our final savoury dish to arrive. A wonderful fusion, showcasing one of our favourite ingredients (the humble aubergine) with swirling flavours of the creamy almond sauce and the stronger red pepper romesco sauce.
But how to finish a dinner like this in a way that is truly fitting? Multiple sweet indulgences with delicious dessert wines, Port and vegan chocolates too.
Beginning with a palate cleanser served in a glass full of refreshing, fruity and light passion fruit and pinapple sorbet; the sharp, creamy coldness of this course really woke us up for dessert (not to mention it went perfectly with the paired dessert wine).
The fruit theme continued with a blueberry based, rich berry dessert complete with
creamy velvet filled berry mousse ‘spheres’, the kind of culinary wizardry that isn’t seen just any restaurant. Rich, deep and sweet fruit a shaving of bitter lime zest, The Yeatman vintage port… oh the pleasure… (plus lust for the cool ‘splash’ ceramic bowl it was served in).
If we’re honest, we would have been content with the blueberry ‘served in a splash’ dessert but then icy lychee and raspberry ice lollies came into our life. We have a soft spot for ‘kid food’ turned into adult treats and this really hit the spot with a decadent bittersweet chocolate shell covering the smooth, perfumed and fruity filling with sour dehydrated raspberry pieces scattered around like delicious fruity fairy dust.
Why not treat yourself and book a room at The Yeatman to round off a perfect evening? A full review of our stay at this luxury wine hotel can be found here.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Make a reservation at The Yeatman’s award winning Gastronomic Restaurant to sample vegan fine dining, truly at its best. This restaurant, which is well deserving of its 2 Michelin stars, can fully adapt the menu so vegans can enjoy a culinary adventure like no other. Creative presentation, imaginative flavours, seasonal ingredients all crafted into a multi-course tasting menu to delight. Highly recommended.
We were guests at the Gastronomic Restaurant but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Rua Do Choupelo,
4400-088 Vila Nova De Gaia,
Telephone: +351 220 133 100
Opening Hours: Daily for dinner from 1930