This is still one of my top 10 restaurants and my current favourite in Porto. It specialises in traditional Portuguese food that has been elevated to a fine foods standard. But don’t be fooled by the hauteur of the food. This place has got lots of soul. The atmosphere is intimate, subdued and rustic. Think exposed stone walls, cast iron props and traditional pottery.
The service is impeccable, with a good balance between attentive and friendly. It’s the kind of service that is always there but you don’t see it. Your needs are looked after permanently – as you remove your coat, it gently and swiftly gets taken away, your glass is always full, the table always clean, and you barely notice it all happening around you.
As you sit down, the table is awash with exquisite nibbles to give you a hint of what is to come: paper thin delicious octopus carpaccio, the softest foie with Port and the creamiest traditional cheese from Azeitão (farmland area in Alentejo, a warm southern province). The two types of bread are delicious and the goat’s milk butter is divine. And that’s just the beginning.
The menu is short and well crafted so you can rest assured every dish is perfect. I cannot tell you to pick one dish over the other so I’ll list all the delightful ones I have tried. The ‘Posta Arouquesa’ – a delicious veal dish, the monkfish rice with prawns, the roasted octopus, the black pig loin with apple sauce… they are all fantastic.
And I am sure the rest will be too. The dishes are for two to share but in our last visit we couldn’t agree, so the host kindly offered to prepare two halves so we could eat two different things. This is Paparico’s style, they spoil you.
We got the same with the wine. We wanted white by the glass but had no idea which to choose so got two different bottles opened so we could decide. No quibbles, their idea.
The desserts are as delicious as the starters and mains, but above all they are clever. The lemon and lime deconstructed meringue pie is a perfect example. Beautifully plated, fresh, sweet and with lots of zing.
If you arrive a little before your booking be sure to hang out by the cosy bar where the most beautiful concoctions of gin are expertly served. They usually have tens of options, which change according to the season.
Whatever you choose to do or eat, I think the best way to describe the Paparico experience is that it leaves you spoiled, every time. Its people spoil you, the food spoils you, the drink, the whole lot. The name says it all – “paparicar” is to pamper. If you happen to be in Porto (which, by the way, is a city well worth a visit) make sure you don’t miss it.
Where: Porto, Portugal
Cuisine: Traditional Portuguese (luxury)
Occasion: Smart dinner
Rating: 5 stars
Would I go again? Yes!