O Leão de Porches (translates as ‘The Lion of Porches’) is a hidden gem in the small quaint village of Porches. Porches, near Lagoa, is a Portugese village with cute, very narrow streets. The restaurant is situated in a charming 17th century farmhouse with thick white washed walls with glorious blue accents which give it that real Mediterranean feel. The farmhouse was converted into a restaurant in 1969, making it one of the oldest restaurants in the area. The chimney and entrance to the restaurant are so iconic that they even feature on postcards of Porches.
We were warmly welcomed by the restaurant’s owner Bianca and presented with wonderful homemade (virgin) cocktails. Because we visited the restaurant in August we chose to sit outside in the cozy garden patio. Candles provide gentle romantic lighting that adds to the overall atmosphere. The service is amazing, quick and attentive and Bianca is a gracious host who speaks no less than 5 languages.
We felt at home straight away at O Leão. Dining here is almost like going to dinner at a friend’s house, but with really amazing food. Their French inspired seasonal menu with a Portugese twist does not fail to tempt the tastebuds. As a starter we had the goat’s cheese and pumpkin (€12), which was the star dish of the night for us. This combination works so well and the plate was beautifully presented, a truly great dish. We also had the ceviche with eel and brown shrimp and “Leite de Tigre” (€13), which was very refreshing and an innovative take on ceviche.
As a main course we enjoyed the lamb with potato foam and cardamom jus (€26) and the salmon with caulifower, parsley and almonds (€20). Both dishes are presented wonderfully but the salmon stood out, such vibrant presentation. We also thought the combinations of lamb and cardamom and salmon and almonds worked very well while also being innovative and modern. For dessert we opted for the parfait of raspberries (€8.50) and the crème brûlée with lemon (€7.50). Both were wonderful, especially suitable for those who do not like their desserts too sweet as both the raspberries and the lemon provide some acidity.
If you cannot get a table at O Leão (and you should always book in advance since it gets very busy), don’t despair! The owner has 3 more restaurants dotted around the Algarve which are well worth a visit. They are called Bon Bon, Pimenta Preta and Oregano. We also visited Bon Bon in Carvoeiro, you can read about our experiences here.