Normally when we go in holiday we are hyper organised, packed for ever eventuality have ideas of what to do and see where to go and good places to eat. Before our recent break to Madeira I had been meaning to check out if there were any eating establishments that would be worth visiting. However due to a manic few weeks and months leading up to the holiday I just hadn’t had chance to do any kind of research into where we were going. In truth I had only just managed to pack and book airport parking before we left.
After an uneventful flight, thanks to easyjet, we had the fastest landing to hotel I’ve ever experienced 40 minutes after landing we were in our room. As it was dark not long after our arrival we didn’t get to explore until the following day. Upon our initial foray into Funchal we walked past the neighbouring hotel, noticing as we did that it restaurant had a star. This instantly grabbed out attention and we thought that we should miss this opportunity to try this out. The only draw back we could see was that the dress code was jacket or tie and me without even a pair of shoes let alone smart dress. Louise was not to be put off even considering taking me shopping for new clothes, I was all for going for it and a reservation was duly made.
Having spent the time between making the booking and weighing up whether I need a new wardrobe or to just go for scrubbing up and hoping for the best. With my best cleaned trainers and ironed shirt and trousers we ventured round to the Il galio d’Oro.
On arrival we started with champagne whilst we perused the menu, having made our choices we awaited the delights to come. First to arrive were our amuse bouches, Louise had foie gras as I was having foie gras for started my amuse bouche was a delightful prawn dish. This was without a doubt the cutest most perfect dish I have yet to be served, the two prawns were peaking out of tapioca and squid it was just a delight both on the eye and the taste buds, I’m not sure I’ve eaten anything prettier.
Onto starters I had foie gras three ways with bicolor pear compote and Blandy’s Madeira Wine Verdelho 10 years jelly, and Louise had Lobster Medallion and Gravlax salmon, dill and iodized cream sauce, followed by a tomatotini sorbet. I’m not quite sure what was in it, but there was definitely mint, tomato and it smelt a little like the tomato vine.
Mains premium filet accompanied by veal cheek confit and black truffle juice, and lamb shank in a crust of spices, seasonal vegetables symphony, chickpeas with coriander, cumin and mint. Both absolutely perfect; and as an aside I think gold leaf finished French trimming is the new way to spruce up your lamb! followed by a pre dessert vanilla and passionfruit delight with a ginger crunch.
Desserts again were a creative delight, Louise had a gold chocolate ball with a warm chocolate source that melted the ball to revel the internal delights of Valrhona Chocolate, pineapple and vanila ice cream. Heavenly warm Valrhona Chocolate poured over the perfect golden chocolate sphere, melting it to reveal the ice cream ball inside. Mine was the Il Big MacGallo d’Oro! The macaroon ‘Big Mac’ completed with sesame seeds with full on trimmings, presented in a burger take-away carton with squeezy ketchup and mayonnaise bottles filled with a raspberry sauce and a white chocolate and lemon sauce, squeezed over the citrus and sable biscuit fries in a chocolate cone. Our meal had ended the way it had started with feast for the eyes as well as the mouth this time from the pastry genius of Nuno Castro.
To finish the night we were once again surprised , this time with a glass of Madeira wine to celebrate the news the Il Galio d’Oro had retained its Michelin star for a sixth year. As we seem to have a habit of being one of the last to leave restaurants, we didn’t break the habit and were the second to last table to leave.
Over the last couple of years we have eaten in a variety of starred and non starred restaurants. From the Fat Duck to Social Eating House, No6 Padstow to Outlaws Fish Kitchen, all have had something different to offer whether it be the style of food the presentation or just the atmosphere and cocktail menu – thank-you Blind Pig for my slight cocktail obsession.
Chef Benoit Sinthon www.benoitsinthon.com
Il Gallo d’Oro, The Clif Bay, Estrada Monumental 147, Funchal, Madeira
Telephone: +351 291 707 700
Images are copyright of Porto Bay Trade, and used with kind permission.
We visited Il Gallo d’Oro for dinner, on our own accord. Thoughts and feelings are my own.