Euskalduna is located in a not so pretty part of town – definitely on the gritty end of the scale, a stones throw away from a few bars such as Passos Manuel and Maus Hábitos. I went with my good friend for some birthday fun.
As you enter you have x2 tables that sit up to 4 people and then the main hub of the restaurant, the bar counter (where the magic happens) sits about 8 people. For your first visit, you must sit at the bar to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
It’s dark, it’s broody, it’s hella sexy. The green marble top table is just so beautiful and the ceramics which are all bespoke to Euskalduna sit perfectly on it. It’s a pared back elegant space with some Japanese influence which also permeates some of the food offering.
We had a very early sitting (7pm) and we were the only two diners at that point, so had their undivided attention. A plethora of handsome men at the counter got my friend and I wondering whether that was a prerequisite for working here. The sommelier seemed to be the main boss man that night (Vasco Coelho Santos was away), he seemed a little stern with the staff that night and a little rigid in general yet charming all at the same time. He guided me through 8 glasses of booze alongside the 10 course tasting menu.
We kicked things off with some Vértice Gouveio – a lil bubble to get us in the groove…
MOMENT 1: RIVER TARTLETTE
A fresh mini bite of flavours from the sea housed in a thin pastry cup helped prep our tastebuds for the unfolding feast.
MOMENT 2: GINGER & MACKEREL
This sliver of mackerel topped with coriander flower packed some serious flavour; really enjoyed the sweetness that came through in this dish via the caramelized ginger.
MOMENT 3: SARRAJÃO & DASHI
The Sarrajão (Atlantic Bonito) which was slowly confit until it gets to a temperature of 40ºC was utterly delightful – served in a clear dashi broth – basically a posh, tasty AF miso soup for laymen like myself.
MOMENT 4: PRAWNS, MANGO & CURRY
This kind of looks like a mess in the picture but what a fine mess it was. A lovely juicy prawn on a bed of prawn oil with a curry ice cream (made with a pasta created in house) and mango salsa was wonderfully fresh and flavoursome, all washed down nicely with a shot of tumeric tea.
PAUSE: SURPRISE DISH – BELLY OF TUNA
We got a lovely surprise dish in the form of the belly of a tuna with pickled asparagus, which tickled my fancy.
MOMENT 5: GREY MULLET, ESCABECHE & JUS
This was my first foray into escabeche land – from reading around, it’s essentially meat / fish marinated in an acidic sauce. I dug the pickled red onion which was a lovely accompaniment to the charcoal grilled piece of grey mullet.
MOMENT 6: MONKFISH, BROAD BEANS & LIVER
Perfectly cooked monkfish and liver with broad beans – yum yum.
MOMENT 7: JOHN DORY & ACORDA
Açorda (a Portuguese bread soup) made from day old bread and fish stock is given the VIP treatment here – the John Dory even dons a light tempura coat for shits and giggles. Those little green spots? Coriander oil. This was not a highlight for me – the texture reminded me of porridge which may have subconsciously put me off the dish before even trying it. I understand this is trying to elevate a humble dish that grandma would make but this erred on the bland end of the scale for me. I wouldn’t have minded missing this moment.
MOMENT 8: VEAL, HERBS AND JOUX
Girrrrrllllll. The veal which had been roasted and cooked for 6 hours and bones removed was so damn tender and rich with flavour; the fresh seasonal green veg did a stellar job in balancing things out. They offered up some bread and who was I to turn it down – of course I used it to mop up the delectable sauce. Then had a swig (or five) of some vino. Lush.
MOMENT 9: PIGEON
By this point in the meal, I could feel myself waning somewhat but I persevered with the pigeon (swapped in as an alternative to pork) which was served on top of cuscos transmontanos. Perfectly cooked, perfectly calorific, perfectly worth it.
PAUSE: CHOCOLATE SANDWICH BISCUIT
Back with my pedestrian descriptions…this time we’re dealing with a luxurious bourbon biscuit with a banana filling. Decent.
MOMENT 10: ELDEFLOWER & ASPARAGUS
I’m not really here for veg in my dessert but I must say this elderflower and asparagus dish was nay bad at all. Would I eat it in abundance? No. However, it was a nice refreshing way to round things off. They also threw in a nice bit of french toast as a birthday treat para mim…
Oh and then these little guys (chilli biscuits) popped out of nowwhere! Cute little touch
I don’t know shit about wine, heck, I don’t know shit about food, I just know I love it! I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I do, what I will give you though are pics of all x8 bottles I sampled 🙂 – forgive me some of the pics are hazy. I actually asked for the 4 glass wine pairing but made a joke about 8 glasses and low and behold I got 8. Lost in translation but I ain’t complaining.
The service was excellent but a little stiff at times; every time we got out of our seats, our napkin got folded and when we returned, we got tucked back in like a baby in a high chair. Lol
The 10 course menu is good value for money at €80 in my opinion. I asked for the x4 glasses wine pairing (€26), I got given x8 glasses (€46), so be super clear about what you want, so you pay for what you want. I didn’t mind this mishap as it was my birthday and more wine can never be a bad thing.
It’s super intimate at the counter. When we visited, it was a mix of young and old, local and foreign folk. It’s an informal environment, I got chatting to an older couple besides me from Holland, they were ace. I LOVED the vibe, everyone was so under control in the kitchen with such sunny dispositions. The decor and kitchen unit helped create a serene, cool, vibe that felt very organic and not try hard at all.=
Euksalanda goes beyond its roots in the Basque Country and Portugal and taps into Asia for inspiration; both with its dishes and overall aesthetic and sensibility. There’s no smoke, there’s no foam, there are no gimmicks at this studio. It is focused, considered, precise cooking that experiments with seasonal produce to deliver flavours to delight your tastebuds; from featherweight dishes like the ginger and mackerel sliver, to more heavyweight dishes like the impossibly tender veal, all delivered in a cool, unpretentious space.
R. de Santo Ildefonso 404, 4000-466 Porto, Portugal
Open Tue – Sat