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"The Four Seasons Restaurant", Palácio Estoril Hotel , Estoril, (nr Lisbon) Portugal

A World Class Restaurant in the Estoril near Lisbon.

Peter and Linda D'Aprix 1999


Executive Chef Orlando Esteves of the world class "Four Seasons Restaurant" connected to the four star hotel "Palácio Estoril Hote" outside of Lisbon has brought his many years of experience in England to this fine restaurant he created. His interest is in bringing the finest modern techniques to his native Portuguese dishes and to his restaurant "Four Seasons Restaurant" and to the hotel in which it is housed the "Palácio Estoril Hote".

photo duck

Breast of Duck with Morell mushrooms.

photo top 3 chefs

Chef Orlando Esteves with his "second" and the pastry chef in front of Hotel Palacio

cataplana

The "Cataplana" cooks like a pressure cooker and produces marvelous seafood dishes. It is the copper "clam shell" top left.

The "Cataplana" cooks like a pressure cooker and produces marvelous seafood dishes. It is the copper "clam shell" top left.

Click photos with blue borders to see larger version.
Peter D'Aprix © 2001

Executive Chef Orlando Esteves of the world class "Four Seasons Restaurant" connected to the four star hotel "Palácio Estoril Hotel" outside of Lisbon has brought his many years of experience in England to this fine restaurant he created. His interest is in bringing the finest modern techniques to his native Portuguese dishes and to his restaurant "Four Seasons Restaurant" and to the hotel in which it is housed the "Palácio Estoril Hotel".

Despite the fact that due to his great success with his restaurant, Chef Orlando has been asked to take over the entire cuisine for all the hotel's other functions, his heart and soul is his pride and joy the "Four Seasons Restaurant". "I provide a menu that I hope offers everyone who comes to my restaurant something that pleases his taste." Chef Orlando is a down to earth, jovial man of serious intent. He has been at the helm of the "Four Seasons" since 1980, is dedicated to his craft, his kitchens, his employees and his patrons all equally.

When I took on the creation of "Four Seasons Restaurant" all there was here at the hotel was the restaurant of the hotel with no individual identity serving unimaginative hotel food. Guests who wanted something interesting went to local restaurants. The hotel wanted to keep them as it's patrons so brought me in to create a restaurant with its own identity. I began by completely redesigning the interior of the dining room."

And he has. It has two levels. The main room is at street level but the second is a horse shoe mezzanine giving a view down to the main floor but leaving a view of the high, beamed ceiling. The lighting is intimate with small spots lights individualizing each table. It is a man's room; clubby. Dark wood beams, copper trimmed wood tiled tables, mosaic printed carpets, reproduction painting of still lives. A place to savor good food; supports a comfortable rumble of conversation.

18 years ago, when Orlando created his dining room he was one of the first to utilize the concept of an open plan rotisserie kitchen devoted to a complex of wood fired grilling in addition to the main kitchens hidden from view. "I want my food to taste like what it is. I do not want to disguise it with sauces. A fish should taste like a fish, a steak a steak. I use only the best and freshest ingredients. In order to satisfy all my varied clients who come from every country on earth, I also provide them with sauces if they wish that will appeal to their individual requirements. But for myself, I just want the natural juices."

photo room

Typical Room.

photo Palacio

Gardens and Pool.

His grill occupies the end of the dining room against the kitchen. It is glass walled on two sides and opens onto the dining room with a serving island as a low barrier. Copper abounds. The middle section is a wall brazier loaded with wood, a spit turning in front. On each side is a horizontal barbecue. In front are a dozen 6" x 10" portable mini-hibachis for the fish. The fish is cooked on these and while still cooking is brought to the table on a wheel gurney. "Fresh off the grill" takes on an immediacy appreciated by his clients.

"The British tend to like roast beef and steak for the men, lamb for the wives. Vegetables well cooked. I tend to like my vegetables al dente myself, but there you are." An English couple at the next table were hungrily tucking into plates of white asparagus with a rich Hollandaise sauce to start followed by plates of lamb and veal kidneys. "I work to give my clients what they want. But I also wish to offer them an introduction to Portuguese cooking by changing the rough country preparation and making it a bit more sophisticated. Not complicated but more refined. I remove most of the salt. If you want salt you can add it yourself. That is easy to do. Taking it out is not so easy. Many of my clients are older, have heart conditions, are on medication, even if they like salt they cannot have it. Personally I do not like too much salt.

My family lived on a farm, I was born there and it is mine now. I spend week ends there." "That is where I get my inspirations for recipes, there on the farm where I was born, away from the pressures of the restaurant, just me and the earth. Herbs, my vegetable garden, my neighbor's vegetable gardens. I see an herb, some other greens or whatever, and I wonder what that would go with. Then off I go in my mind. Then to my small but modern kitchen. I take the recipe back to the restaurant, introduce it to my chefs and we finish working it out."
"But always I try to keep it simple. I do not want to mix to many flavors or complicate the culinary process. Young chefs today often cook just for the look on the plate. You must maintain a balance between look, creativity and nutrition." This is advice from a man who has been the president of the Cook and Chefs Association of Portugal for 5 years, has had his own cooking show for years on Lisbon media (Radio Renascença Lisbon), has given numerous interviews and recipe preparations as individual interviews on local and international television as well as having been invited all over the world to give cooking demonstrations, recently he appeared in Okura, Japan.

Even a short distance inland, there is little fish available even with today's refrigeration except for the dried and salted cod introduced by the far roaming Vikings centuries ago. But on the coasts of Portugal, fresh fish and seafood are available in abundance. Orlando took us down to the harbor in Cascais to see the fishing boats arrive, off load and sell their fish at auction right on the quay.

Dinner started with a simple but superb dish of clams with coriander and a touch of smoked ham. The tastes were subtle and balance perfectly. It was served with a very dry white wine known as "Green wine" from northern Portugal. It was tart with a taste that included hints of lemon. Not an aperitif wine but the perfect companion for the clams. Next he served a Magret of duckling with Moscatel wine. It was accompanied by a superb "Tinto" or red wine from the Vidigueira region that could compete with reds of quality anywhere but with its own distinct character. This was followed with a dish whose very tools of preparation are distinctive Portuguese giving credit to the Sacerans, Arabs who conquered and ruled the whole Iberian peninsula for centuries. Their rule added much to the cultural riches of Portugal in architecture and cuisine.

One gift to Portuguese cuisine is the "cataplana" a steamer made of copper with a lining of tin or stainless steel. It is shaped like a flying saucer with top and bottom identical except for a base on the bottom part of the shell. Simple clamps hold the two halves together sealing the steam in. It is most often used for preparing a fish stew. Our "cataplana" was of fish and seafood. Succulent and delicious it tasted of the sea. Served with a light, dry white wine it finished the meal perfectly.

The Portuguese are not big on desserts. "The Four Seasons" offers a pastry cart but fresh fruit abounds and is generally excellent as a fruit salad. Orlando stocks superb Italian gelatos and sorbets. "We Portuguese do not make good ice creams" he remarked.

Despite being located outside of the major city of Lisbon, the "Palácio Estoril Hotel" and its showcase restaurant the "Four Seasons", is a very sophisticated, big city establishment serving a sophisticated clientele.

Palácio Estoril Hotel
Rua Particular
2769 - 504 Estoril
Portugal

tel: +351 (21) 464 8000
fax: +351 (21) 464 8159
eMail: front-desk@palacioestorilhotel.com
Web Site Link

The Four Seasons Restaurant
Palácio Estoril Hotel
Rua Particular
2769 - 504 Estoril
Portugal

tel: +351 (21) 464 8000
fax: +351 (21) 464 8159


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No copying, reuse or partial reproduction permitted without written permission by the authors, Peter and Linda D'Aprix.

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