A bit before everyone in the travel business started taking a serious look at Portugal and especially the country’s adorable northern capital Porto, InterContinental took the lead and turned an old palace at the feet of Porto’s iconic beaux arts Avenue dos Aliados into a world class hotel.
The location is nothing short of perfect, and InterContinental pulled out all the stops to turn Palace of the “Cardosas” – named after the very wealthy sisters who lived there throughout the 19th century – into the adress of choice in downtown Porto. Eventually the whole block was turned into one of Porto’s most sought after real estate, and the avenue is following suit.
But just as remarkable as the hotel itself is the stunning Astoria Restaurant facing the avenue and the the monumental São Bento Station. I had a rather decadent lunch experience, starting with an incredible – and truffled – veal tartare, followed by a surprising yet oh-so-portuguese shrimp risotto, a duck confit (they do adore me around here) with dauphinois and roasted veggies, and rounding up with a refreshing chocolate and passion fruit panna cota. Chef Jorge Sousa joined me for coffe afterwards, and told me all about his plans for the Astoria.
Obviously, such a commanding location asks for a refined interpretation of Southern Europe food, taking advantage of the freshest produce and Porto’s estimed tradition of wood oven baking. Sharing plates, the trend du jour, is very encouraged along with oil tastings and Mediterranean inspired cocktails. Jorge Sousa has a refined and ambitious taste, so he doesn’t shy away of duck! Be it with truffles, foie gras, or smothered in sweet sauce, he is a fan.
How I’m supposed to climb the Clerigos Tower after this is anyone’s guess.
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