07 Nov 2019 2401
PortoBay Hotels & Resorts PortoBay Hotels & Resorts
#experiences #gastronomie #tips

The best view in town

It's called Avista. It’s the latest PortoBay restaurant. Overlooking the ocean, it serves a combination of Asian and Mediterranean food in a relaxed and elegant setting.
On the table, a glass which seems to have partially melted contains a drink that exudes freshness. Bubbles, the green of a lime juice, garnished with mint leaves that give off the scent of nature. At first glance it looks like a mojito. But this one is special. In place of rum comes saké, a Japanese drink made from fermented rice, hence the name Saké Mojito.

This blend of influences, that complement each other without clashing, is the essence of Avista, the restaurant that could be two restaurants, a bar and a lounge, but is in fact one dining space on a relaxed and elegant scale.

Avista is a play on words. It can mean 'view’ in Portuguese, or ‘catch sight of’… in the sense of scanning the horizon that is visible from the top of the ravine on which Les Suites at The Cliff Bay is built. This is the newest member of the PortoBay family of which the restaurant is a part.

The hotel, made up of 23 suites overlooking the sea, was built around two villas dating from the start of the 20th century.  The Avista occupies several floors of one of them and comprises terraces, balconies and rooms. The soft tones of the décor are a mix of classic and contemporary, the perennial style typical of PortoBay hotels.

Avista reflects the world: it is dynamic, versatile and up-to-date, with no fixed ideas. It deconstructs the conventional without intending to be alternative. It is versatile. 
It evolves over time and space. Breakfast with the morning sun glinting off the Atlantic, afternoon tea, the bar with a selection of cocktails and snacks, lunch and dinner. All of these can be brought to you on the lounge terrace or in one of the restaurants themselves.

There are two concepts at work here; not by chance it combines two of the most distinctive cuisines in the world: Asian and Mediterranean.

Benoît Sinthon is mentor to the gastronomic creations. He is the chef who earned two Michelin stars for Il Gallo d'Oro, the restaurant at neighbouring The Cliff Bay, part of the same group. For each kitchen a team was created and a chef chosen.

From Wednesday to Sunday Luísa Castro offers up more than sushi, a speciality that has spread around the world and established Asian cuisine firmly in popular culture. The chef reveals that she wanted to escape sushi as a brand image. So not only is the sushi amazing here, it distances itself from the idea of fusion. And the rest of the menu shows that the Japanese have much more to offer.

The hot dishes follow traditional recipes, to which the chef has added a personal touch and regional Madeiran products. You can sample soups, like ramen, or miso, or specials grilled over charcoal using the robatayaki method to cook a teriaki steak or some fresh fish.

Asian cuisine occupies the upper floor of the villa. One floor below is the Mediterranean kitchen run by Chef João Luz, who reveals that in the design phase, the Avista was to going be a steak house, or a top gastronomic restaurant. But it’s not! It has been planned to be consensual, as you would expect from comfort food.

The Josper is used in almost everything. The closed charcoal oven cooks at a temperature of between 300 and 360 degrees, preserving the juices of the food and enhancing the flavour. This is where João Luz prepares aged meats, for example, served with sauces from around the world: South American chimichurri; oriental pineapple chutney; or French coffee sauce.

Fish is also on the menu. It is chosen according to what is available in the market. It usually ranges from tuna, wrasse, bream or scabbard fish.

Customers make the dish because they choose the sauces and the side dishes. Despite the simplicity of the process, the result is a complex burst of flavour, a blend of palates that come together in harmony.
One example is the appetizers, which like the other menus, are served anywhere in the bar or restaurant and can also be a lunch or dinner starter. Hummus, royal crab timbale, scallops, plus cheese or cured sausage… there’s no shortage of options. 
The wine list is predominantly Portuguese and more than 30 wines are sold by the glass. Renowned Portuguese sparkling wines are increasingly making an appearance, as are a variety of Madeira wines.
At night the space changes. The flame of a pyre in the centre of the garden conveys comfort and a feeling of welcome. There is warm lighting in hidden corners of the garden. Madeira's mild climate, which allows you to use the terrace almost all year round, does the rest.

In the distance, Garajau point is lit up on the horizon. You can see a little of Funchal, with its harbour and the bay… probably the best view in town.

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