Towards the end of 2012 a group of foodies and I were invited to Picante to sample some Portuguese cuisine in the run up to the opening of the new restaurant. The majority of the food was cooked in front of us as we dined at an ad-hoc chefs table in the kitchen and we were able to sample the food, talk to the chefs and the staff about the authenticity of the food as well as about menu suggestions, portion sizes etc. It was a great evening and gave us an interesting insight to what was to come. With a few dishes really sticking out as being exceptional my absolute favourite dish was the Cataplana which is a seafood dish containing king prawns, lobster, muscles and other fish cooked in a tasty fish stock. The Cataplana is presented in a hinged copper bowl which opens like a hinged clam dish at the table and visually beautiful was full of simple good fresh seafood flavours.
In February we got news that the restaurant had opened and a group of us visited on the opening evening to sample a variety of food from the menu. Whilst we sampled many dishes, some of my personal favourites included the Clams Bolhão Pato style (Sautéed Clams in olive oil with garlic, lemon & coriander) and Camarão Frito com alho e especiarias (Sautéed Shrimps with garlic, piri piri and coriander) from the hot starter menu as well as Bacalhau á Lagareiro – Codfish á Lagareiro Style (Codfish cooked in the oven with olive oil, onion, garlic and served with baby baked potatoes) from the Fish menu. For dessert my top two favourites were Pasteis de Nata (Traditional Egg Custard in puff pastry) and Tabua de queijos variados (an assorted cheese platter which a mixture of specially imported portuguese cheese). Whilst Cataplana was not on the menu that night, I’m told that it’s a regular ‘special’ dish and, in my opinion, it’s worth the drive to try it.
Picante’s Chef Luis Salgueiro has brought good portuguese home cooking to Picante with uncomplicated flavourful food which reminds me of a family holiday in Portugal. His passion for Portuguese food shines through and he and the team have truly brought a little piece of Portugal to Dubai.