Monday, July 2, 2012
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After eating an incredible meal at O Paparico in Porto, my family and I were deeply looking forward to another fabulous dining experience. This time at Porto's only Michelin starred restaurant in The Yeatman hotel. Overlooking the city like an emperor, The Yeatman is a magical place just outside of the city center. Surrounded by port houses, The Yeatman is one of the most spectacular places I've ever been to.
However, we didn't get to enjoy its reputable restaurant because after 1.5 hours of waiting for a table, we had enough and decided to leave. It was an unfortunate experience. One that, according to the hotel manager, never happens. He apologized profusely and made us a reservation at Rui Paula's DOP. And I am oh so happy he did.
DOP is an entirely different dining experience to O Paparico. Not better, not worse, just different. Rui Paula has elevated seemingly simple dishes into gastronomic juggernauts. Take for instance, my Duck Magret with Foie Gras and Mushroom Risotto, which was perhaps, no scrap that, IS the best Mushroom Risotto I have ever eaten. I have nothing to equate it to as this dish simply has no equal. I would eat it five times a day if I could. Served with Freeze Dried Blueberries that contrasted very nicely with the deep, intense flavors in the Foie Gras, this is a dish that could stand up to anything served in London or New York.
I think it's fair to say that all of the diners felt the same way I did. Whether it was the Monkfish with Lime Risotto or the decadent starter of Foie Gras in a Port Sauce with Chicken Thigh Confit, Rui Paula has definitely created a restaurant that can cater to the most demanding foodie.
When our meal was ending we were treated to Mr. Paula himself coming around to each table and asking us how we enjoyed our food. It was close to midnight, but he still took the time to ensure each dining experience was the best he could offer. After complimenting him on my Mushroom Risotto he simply said, "Thank you very much. I'm going to go home now."
And it is this incredible sense of modesty and professionalism that has attracted me to the restaurants in Porto. And despite our mishap with The Yeatman, I'm sure the experience is the same there. Maybe I'll get to find out next time.