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“A great disappointment”
Review of Degust'Ar

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Ranked #31 of 292 Restaurants in Evora
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Portuguese
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed May 1, 2017

We had enjoyed a great degustation meal at Origens in Evora a few nights before, and the recent glowing reviews of Degust’Ar led us to book for their 68 Euro per person 5 course degustation with premium wine for our last dinner in Portugal.

Things got off to a shaky start when they couldn’t find our reservation, but eventually we were shepherded to our table (note to Maitre D: It’s a big restaurant, and you know where our table is, we don’t, so it’s a better idea if we follow you). The room itself is beautiful, with vaulted ceilings, and the tables are well spaced and nicely appointed.

First up was a generous plate of olives with orange, olive oil, what was described as goat cheese but which was more like goat butter, and three different types of bread. Then came an amuse bouche octopus salad, in which the taste of the octopus was unfortunately swamped by diced red and green capsicum, followed by a very bland tomato “and egg” soup which had us both reaching for the condiments.

The first of the five courses, a perfectly cooked scallop with cauliflower puree and seafood foam, was the best thing that we had on the night. Unfortunately the crab pattie with lettuce salad that followed was not so great, and the two fish courses - red mullet and sea bass - were both reasonably well cooked pieces of fish, but the latter was spoilt by an accompaniment of barely warm and undercooked chopped mushrooms.

Next up came the toughest sliced duck breast we’d ever come across, accompanied by an overly acidic citrus sauce and something which fellow Australians might recognise as the first cousin to the infamous Chiko roll, together with a bitter blob of creamed spinach. We both returned this course to the kitchen, noting the issues with the wait staff, and were somewhat surprised ten minutes later to be presented with exactly the same dish, together with the young chef. We gave him our feedback but declined to repeat the experience.

Next up was a veal dish, in which the meat was edible if a little overcooked, but there was no excuse for the cold, diced undercooked potatoes and even colder chestnut puree. After the first of the two dessert courses, a peppermint ice cream with apple that reminded me of eating toothpaste, we decided to cut our losses and called for the bill.

We had noticed from the start of the evening some disorganisation amongst the waiting staff, and we ended up interacting with at least four of them. Consequently there was no one tasked with keeping track of where we were up to with our matching wines, and twice I had to leave the table to track down the wine that went with the course we had been presented with. In one instance one of the wait staff offered us the first white wine again instead of the second, insisting that it was the right match. He had no sooner poured a glass than a more senior member appeared with the right bottle.

The wines themselves were undistinguished, and the whites served much too cold. A later check online revealed them to be mostly in the 4-8 Euro category. I’d hate to imagine what the non-premium wines were like. The background music was also interesting, ranging from easy listening to Ibiza techno in the space of a couple of minutes.

To their credit they did reduce our bill substantially in view of our dissatisfaction, but I would have preferred to pay full price for an excellent experience. We had eaten in a few Michelin star restaurants in nearly four weeks in Portugal, and we weren’t expecting a Michelin experience at half a Michelin price. However, the meal and the experience we had at Origens a couple of nights before was far, far better than this at half the price. Both the kitchen and front of house need to be drastically reformed if the restaurant is to deliver the sort of customer experience that would be in keeping with the lovely surroundings. At present it’s little more than institutional food.

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4  Thank ctrunfree
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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10 - 14 of 171 reviews

Reviewed February 28, 2017

I generally avoid hotel restaurants - this is one to seek out even if you're not staying there. Food is superb, not over-salted like many restaurants, service unobtrusive but there when needed, wine list and advice spot on, price less than I'd expect for this quality. Off-season visit so maybe at their best.

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Thank GeoffCh2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed November 20, 2016 via mobile

We went here for the premier food and wine pairing which was lovely. The food was very very good and the wine was all local and paired well. The most amazing part was our glasses where consultantly refilled. The veal dish was unreal with a chestnut butter and the dessert was a delight.
We will return if ever in Evora again. A truly fantastic experience

4  Thank 203candicec
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 13, 2016

We went to Degust'Ar at the end of our holiday in Evora (having stayed in the magnificent Mar D'Aqueduto Hotel but being somewhat wary of hotel restaurants) and had a fabulous meal (and were very disappointed that this was our last evening in town...).

We opted for the menu degustation which is not only excellent value for money (44 EUR p.p. including matching wines), but also superbly cooked and very tasty. We loved everything about this meal: delicious food, wonderful service (attentive yet never intrusive), great pace and a lovely ambience - simply perfection!

I can not recommend this place highly enough - a must-visit when in Evora in my view (booking highly recommended)!

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1  Thank foodlover1108
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 1, 2016

We'd identified this restaurant as a place to eat while we were in Evora, but having read some of the other reviews, we weren't at all sure. But we were fortunate enough to have been upgraded to this hotel, so we decided to try it. And boy we were glad we did.

Our visit to Evora was to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and we were looking for somewhere special to eat - this was definitely it. We opted for the Tasting menu with the "premier" wine selection - we wanted to try some new wines, and most of those in the "regular" selection we'd already tried.

This isn't going to be a short review, but if you want the edited highlights: it was a fantastic meal, each dish beautifully matched with the wines and great value.

And we suspect that the reason for some of the other reviews not being so positive is that the hotel is used as a stop on a tour of Portugal by a major tour travel group. We suspect that the package doesn't include the a la carte menu, but a more budget version, as none of the dishes mentioned were on the menu we saw.

But on with the review of the meal. We were seated and welcomed with the couvert (salmon pate, three types of butter, three types of bread, olive oil and olives) and a glass of Ervideira white sparkling wine - which if you'd told me was French champagne I wouldn't have argued.

Then the "amuse bouche" was served - a delicious spinach cream and mushroom soup. This was followed by the first of the starters - a beautifully seared scallop served on a bed of cauliflower cream with a basil foam - this was matched with a lovely Cartuxa wine - Floral de Evora - which was light and flowery but which complemented the dish perfectly.

We kept some of this wine to go with the next starter which was a delightful crab mousse served in a lovely light pastry "bun" - it looked a bit like a mini crab-burger, with a lettuce salad.

The fish course was a perfectly cooked fillet of red mullet served on an "orange porridge" with mint. The texture of the orange porridge was somewhat like English stuffing (usually served with roast dishes) before it's roasted. A little heavy, but the flavour matched the fish perfectly. This was served with a much more robust white wine from Herdade dos Grous.

To cleanse our palates before the meat course, we were served what was described as a "ginger ice cream". Ginger certainly, but it was more like a delicate mixture of ice cream and sorbet. It did its job of cleansing the palate.

Then to the main meat course - loin of veal with sausage, orange, potatoes, mushrooms and a chestnut pate. Hard to describe (I've uploaded a picture) but mine was absolutely delicious - it was beautifully cooked and fell apart under my knife. My wife's wasn't quite such a good piece of veal - there was a little gristle on one side. She ate about half of it. Her comment was that if this was the only dish of the meal, she'd have sent it back, but actually about half of it was all she needed at this point.

The veal was matched with a red Reserva from Esporao. This was very full bodied and intense. It worked well with the meat but in our opinion far too robust and intense for drinking without food. Great that we got to try it.

And then on to our two desserts. The first of which was described as "tropical cocktail fruits". It contained orange and pineapple with cream in a strawberry jelly. A bit like a mini trifle. The second was a selection of four different local desserts - I didn't catch all of them but there was a lot of egg and almond, and some carob involved. There was also a lovely lemon sorbet. It was matched with a dessert wine - a late harvest Antao Vaz again from Ervideira. I'm not usually a fan of sweet wines, but this went well with the desserts.

I finished with a rather large glass of Medronho (an aqua vite from the Monchique area of the Algarve). Including this, and a large bottle of mineral water, the whole meal came to only €120. Which, considering the quality, the number of dishes, the selection of wines and the terrific service, is amazing value! A meal like this would probably have cost nearer €200 on the Algarve (if you could find it), and likely double that in London.

My only minor criticism is that on the night we were there, there was no Maitre D welcoming diners at the entrance, so we (and others) had to go into the restaurant, amongst the diners, to find someone to check our reservation and seat us. A minor blemish in what was otherwise a fabulous meal and a lovely evening.

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3  Thank meadowend51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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