Chef Álvaro Costa surprises in traditional hotel

Operating since 1935, always in the same family, Hotel Meira was the brainchild of Simão Meira and Felisbela Brito, which gained strength under Jorge Meira’s management and is now in the hands of Ana Paula Meira, granddaughter of the founders, and her son Emanuel. It is four generations of a family at the head of an establishment where the years are unseen. With its light decoration, spacious and airy spaces, outdoor pool and carefully designed rooms, the Meira Hotel in Vila Praia de Âncora lives up to its four stars and is now preparing to give its restaurant a boost.

Felisbela was a cook of established credits and the dishes that came out of her hands brought just fame to the restaurant. The lamprey, the kid and even the tripe “à moda do Porto” (tripe cooked the Porto way) used to make people take the road from the Invicta, at a time when it was not easy to get to Vila Praia de Âncora just to be able to indulge in the food made by the famous cook.

Now, almost 30 years later, and with the hotel operating at cruising speed, Ana Paula and Emanuel Meira are willing to recover the aura and fame of the restaurant. And nothing better to do so than to add one of the most respected national chefs to the team.

Chef Álvaro Costa becomes responsible for Hotel Meira's kitchen in January
With a career that has taken him to run kitchens in Michelin-starred hotels in Corsica, Paris and Milan. New in Portugal, his curriculum includes the Sheraton Porto, the Pestana Group and the Porto Palácio Congresso & SPA. Now the clients of Hotel Meira can delight themselves with his delicacies

Chef Álvaro Costa is now responsible for the restaurant’s menu, starting in January, focusing on traditional flavours and local products. This is how the Hotel Meira kitchen will prepare the fish of the day, or were we not in a land of fishermen, the trout from the Âncora river, the stone octopus and the cachena meat, the native cow species that abounds in the Peneda and Gerês mountains. Codfish, traditional in this village that saw many of its children leave for Newfoundland, will also be a main course on the menu.

It is Hotel Meira and Chef Álvaro Costa’s intention to keep the five-course menu at lunchtime and to invest in real tasting menus at dinnertimes, as well as to turn a blind eye to Galicia and the region’s companies, which now have ample space and a refined cuisine for their initiatives.

Chef Álvaro Costa will start working in the kitchen of Hotel Meira in January, but the New Year’s Eve dinner will be a kind of introduction to what’s to come and, we assure you, it will make everyone’s mouth water.

The New Year’s Eve dinner menu prepared by chef Álvaro Costa for the Meira Hotel comprises eight courses paired with good wines, most of which are also from the region.

The first moment is made up of scallop, beetroot yogurt, muscat and fresh mint to enhance the flavours, accompanied by Cortinha Velha sparkling wine.

This is followed by a smoked seafood cream, with fresh crab and coriander jelly. The extremely tasty cream results from seafood shells that have been smoked for three hours in the oven, which marries perfectly with the crab meat.

A surprising dish
The sea bass in sea cabidela has everything to become a flagship dish of the Hotel Meira cuisine

The third moment is truly special. Corvina in cabidela do mar. The dish, born from chef Álvaro Costa’s imagination, brings together an extremely fresh piece of sea bass with a rice that reminds us of the typical “minhota” style “cabidela”, but in which there is no room for hesitation. When he created it, the chef told us, “the only thing that came to mind was pica-no-chão chicken”. But all the flavours are from the sea.

The fish were paired with an alvarinho Cortinha Velha which accompanied them with distinction.

The illusion of colour is created by a rice cooked with cuttlefish ink, shrimp and fish broth, and the avinage taste by the addition of an Alvarinho vinegar which elevates this dish that has all the conditions to become a flagship dish of the renovated kitchen of the Hotel Meira.

Before the meat, there is time for a flavour cutter composed of citrus smoothie with crème fraiche.

Only then is the meat served. For the fifth moment of this New Year’s Eve menu, Chef Álvaro Costa chose the meat from “cachena”, a type of cow with a low body and profuse horns that grazes in the hills of Alto Minho. It was served a freshly cooked, well-sealed and pink inside, accompanied by crinkled potatoes and white truffle, roasted carrots, shitakes and madeira sauce that were responsible for bringing out the flavours of the meat and giving it a bed of comfort, a task they achieved with distinction

Still accompanied by a Douro red wine from Quinta de Castelares, a duo of mountain cheese with a surprising pepper and apple compote was served.

To finish off a dinner of handfuls, came a mango cheesecake with tangerine ice cream, strawberry coulis and praline chocolate crunch, followed by the indispensable coffee with mignardises and truffles.

A final word for the service, friendly and competent, doing justice to an author’s meal with deep roots in the land and tradition.

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