When the dishes are experiments . ..
With its two Michelin stars, Il Gallo d'Oro is a challenge to the senses, a journey through a world full of flavours.
On the table a white cloth and a candle. Hardly the image of dishes and cutlery that we expect for a culinary experience. But Il Gallo d’Oro is like that!! Simple and at the same time, complex. There is a carefully positioned spotlight over each table and soft background lighting, enough to bring into focus the moments that follow.
Everything comes together quickly, with the glass of champagne that opens the palate, the different types of butter, the La Vera red pepper paste, the salt-free seaweed, the walnuts or the artisanal olive oil made from Galician olives.
Then come the chef's choices. Benoît Sinthon is a Frenchman who has taken Madeira to his heart. With his interest in popularising local produce, ideas emerged that led him to create a new kind of cuisine rooted in the island. His work was recognised and Il Gallo d'Oro, his first restaurant in Madeira, gained a Michelin star. The second star was earned a few years later. This was an award for the whole team.
The Chef doesn't just enjoy the status of having won two Michelin stars. He goes much further!! He creates and recreates, reinvents every day and seeks to introduce new products and above all new textures.
The dishes are known as experiments. The choice is a happy one. Every moment at dinner is more than just a tasting. It is an appeal to the senses. A surprise. An explosion of flavour.
All this is closely monitored by waiters who are attentive to detail; it is at the table that the performance takes place. Each experience is a work of art, as if it were possible to visit a gallery without leaving your chair. The plates come in a surprising number of forms, including creations by the chef himself made for porcelain manufacturers.
The menu changes four to five times a year. It follows the season. But the consistency that Michelin recognizes is always there. This work has been honoured by other awards that Il Gallo d'Oro has collected.
The dinner can be à la carte, with a choice of five, six, nine or ten creations, including the Bola d’Oro, which is three dishes in one and is available in 9 and 10 creations.
Alternatively, you can follow the chef's suggestions and embark on a tasting of the Confiance Menu, a five-course meal.
Benoît Sinthon explains that the menu contains "wonderful produce from our garden and the island, with a fusion of the food I like”, which may be Alsatian venison, foie gras, crayfish or prawns, among many others that are well-known worldwide, together with fish from the Madeiran coast, vegetables and herbs grown on the island.
But art is not just a product. The flavours are designed to go together. A dinner experience at Il Gallo d'Oro may be a "journey between Madeira, Portugal or the Iberian Peninsula". It all depends on the season, explains the Chef.
One of Il Gallo d'Oro's trademarks is not to serve heavy meals. "Customers in this type of restaurant increasingly want to sample various dishes, become familiar with the Chef’s cooking and get the most out of the experience.” That’s why, Benoît Sinthon concludes, there is no place for heavy menus.
Despite changes to the menu, there are dishes which with time become classics, the Chef’s "must make” because they have made Il Gallo d’Oro’s reputation. The Crystal Wave, Eucalyptus Pigeon, Pinheiro Suckling Pig, or Limpets are just some examples.
The wines are always on hand, chosen individually or as a pairing with the food. Portuguese wines feature heavily on the list.
And when the show seems to be over, there are more surprises for those who like to end their meal with a tea. A box arrives with various flavours inside pots. The time required for the infusion is measured with an hourglass, so that nothing is left to chance. In another box, which resembles a safe, is an assortment of petit fours created by Pastry Chef Nuno Castro. It’s all a question of detail.