Abi & I couldn’t have asked for a more magical final day. The sun was shining, we visited a Lego Kingdom and ate like Queens.
Sintra is a hilltop village about a 30 minute drive out of Lisbon, and well worth the day trip, even if for the views alone.
Sintra is yet another of Lisbon’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with Sintra Royal Palace, Pena National Palace and the Castle of Mouros all sharing the limelight.
Abi & I started our day’s exploring at the Royal Palace, marveling at every room’s unique theme and the intricate & extravagant detailing that featured throughout.
The gardens were my favourite though (this is becoming somewhat of a recurring statement), with manicured hedges & bushes, and unbelievable views of the surrounding hilltops & houses.
Check out this lonesome Gothic house embedded deep in the forest:
Fit for the Wicked Witch!
Having had our fill of the Royal Palace we trundled back into town, in search of food.
The alleys are steep & narrow, but if you can manage the climb you will be rewarded with gems of restaurants with amazing views.
We settled ourselves in, ordered a cheeky bottle of white and got to work on the menu.
I ordered a deliciously tender & tasty squid sat atop buttery julienned vegetables, which was absolutely scrumptious.
Whilst Abi went for the Portuguese duck baked rice with chorizo, nom nom nom.
Re-energised, we got back on our feet and trekked (what we had been told was) 3km up the hill to Pena National Palace. However, I can assure you that the climb felt never-ending, and I am absolutely positive that it was much, much further!
Pena National Palace is 100% worth visiting, and I would say was my favourite of all the historical sights that we visited in Portugal, so be sure to set some time aside to go if you visit Lisbon.
The entrance is quite swamp like, with a fair bit of distance to cover through the woods before you reach the fairytale castle.
A real life Lego Kingdom.
Colourful, build-up blocks of buildings make the palace fit for any child’s dreams.
^ The Queen of my castle.
Yet there was nothing childlike about the intricate handiwork that the walls proudly displayed.
Or the beautiful ‘azulejo’ (Portuguese tiles) #ihavethisthingwithfloors.
And as if the palace itself doesn’t offer enough, the panoramic views that you get of the surroundings are utterly breathtaking.
Having worked up a sweat from our 119027490237km uphill hike and wanting to scrub up before our last meal in Lisbon, we hurried home and made for an ultra-speedy turnaround.
Abi & I perched ourselves at the glammed up bar and got stuck in to a coupla goblet G&T’s.
The dining room is an interesting and absolutely stunning space fitted out with glittery chandeliers, plush velvet banquets and starched white tablecloths.
Starting with a
basket bucket of bread & butter (€4.00).
Admittedly not the best bread I’ve ever had… a little variation would have been preferred in exchange for the excessive portion, and the slices tasted as if they had sat pre-cut for quite some time (i.e. stale).
We ordered a bottle of ‘Veuve Clicquot Brut’ (€85.00) to accompany our snazzy iPad menu playing and indulgent meal to follow.
We shared the tuna tartare, avocado, pear, soy and lime (€23.00) and beef carpaccio with pesto, rocket and goat cheese (€12.00) to start.
The tuna was delicious. Excellent quality and served chunky style (which I much prefer), marinated in a moreish and tangy, refreshing sauce.
The beef carpaccio was utterly exceptional, the beef was so succulent & flavoursome, and went down a treat with the fresh pesto and shavings of goat cheese.
The rocket brought a bitter edge to the plate and balanced the other flavours beautifully. A stellar starter.
We both really craved pasta, and with each of our respective favourite offerings, lobster and pork, on the menu, none of the other dishes even got a look in. We were sold.
Pasta dishes ordered, we were a little surprised by the arrival of our additional pre-pasta pasta dish, the linguine with parmesan and black truffle sauce (€22.00), which our server informed us the chef insisted that we try.
After our first eye-rolling bite, we could see why.
The pasta was quite literally swimming in creamy truffle deliciousness and forkful after forkful continued to provide some of the most sumptuous mouthfuls that I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
It was a truffle lover’s dream, with Abi & I repeatedly nodding to one another in that silent, dazed, foodie-loving agreement that we were in heaven.
That said, the dish was as rich as they come, and a couple of bites is all that you need to be entirely satisfied (especially given our actual pasta orders were shortly due to arrive…).
My linguine nero “à l’armoricaine” with lobster (€33.00) was a solid effort. Aside from the general portion being large enough to feed a family of four, the lobster helping was generous and juicy. I could have done with a little more sauce though, and for that reason alone I’d knock a couple of points off.
Abi’s roast suckling pig pappardelle, peas and pecorino (€23.00) had a lot of potential, the pasta perfectly al dente and the meat nice and porky, but a little on the dry side, which the (alas, again) lack of sauce did nothing to aid.
So *almost* there, but not quite. I must admit that judging from the plates whizzing by and being served to our fellow diners, the fish & meat options are the best way to go.
All is well that ends well though, with the chocolate coulant and vanilla ice-cream (€7.00) sinking its warm, silky, filthy rich way down our throats all too easily.
The apple & pear crumble with green apple sorbet (€7.00) was another *almost* winner of the evening; the crumble needing to be ever so slightly crumblier and the apple & pear needing ever so slightly less bite. Plus, no crumble can ever be truly perfect without custard.
All in all, we had a fab final evening at Olivier Avenida’s flagship restaurant. Service was on point, the setting was welcomingly unusual with a touch of garish glam and, most importantly, all of our food was good, if not excellent.
Irrespective of Olivier Avenida (the man himself)’s generosity in hosting Abi & I across a number of his restaurants, K.O.B, Yakuza, Guilty and “Olivier Avenida” above, I can hand on heart tell you that the standard of food served and experience delivered across all of his restaurants that we were fortunate enough to visit is extremely high, and I would eagerly independently return to each and every one of them.
So if you go, let me know what you think!
*I dined as a guest of Olivier Avenida, but all opinions are my own.