Every year we come to the Algarve in Portugal and one of my favourite bits about the holiday is eating in so many fantastic restaurants. One of our favourites, Casa do Lago in Quinta do Lago has one of those settings that just cant be beaten. The restaurant is found in the middle of a nature reserve (the Ria Formosa) on a huge lake with picturesque surroundings and is a beautiful spot to enjoy lunch or dinner. Casa do Lago means Lake House and you can see why. Perched on the shores of the lake it has the most incredible vistas where you can just sit and relax with a cocktail staring out at the view for hours.
The restaurant itself is beautiful, very nautical and all decorated in blue and white. We’ve come here in both the summer and winter and somehow it manages to be both light and airy in the summer and cosy and welcoming in the winter. In the summer we like to sit on the terrace and in the winter we head inside and eat in the main dining room which is decorated with fishing nets and seaside trinkets.
Today, we were here en masse (11 of us) for lunch in the sun, but of course we had to start with a cocktail first. We headed to the seating area, (which doubles as a fire pit in winter) and ordered a round of drinks.
Taking in the view we relaxed, watching people doing watersports on the lake until it was time to go to the table. We ordered some Vinho Verde for the table (when in Portugal…) and looked at the menu.
It was very diverse. There were Mediterranean dishes, Japanese, Vietnamese, even a good old British Fish & Chips! Definitely something for everyone. The prices aren’t cheap but you’re paying for the location and the view. Between us all we ended up ordering a very eclectic group of starters. Some went for the more standard offering of salt and pepper calamari (€17.00). Others went for the more exotic sounding Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi (€19.00) or the Steamed Pork Buns (€14.00).
Although I’m informed that the calamari was deliciously crisp and well seasoned, I think the sashimi was the star. It came served with sweet ginger dressing, apple, sesame and a Wasabi pannacotta, . The tuna came thinly sliced on the plate and the wasabi pannacotta was to die for! Light but with a hefty punch, it elevated the dish to another level!
I chose the Fresh Burrata with Salsa Verde and Charred Bread (€16.00), quickly palming the bread off on Dan. The salsa verde wasn’t what I was expecting but it was one oft the most vibrant green sauces I’ve ever seen. It tasted of spinach and pea and coriander. Deliciously fresh and perfect against the creaminess of the burrata. Paired with the slightly effervescent and acidic Vinho Verde it was a match made in heaven!
Then it was onto the main courses. There were lots of takers for the Casa do Lago fish and chips (€19.50)! It never disappoints according to my dad! The batter is always perfectly crisp, the fish is meaty and you can even swap out the fries for sweet potato fries. Served with mushy peas and tartare sauce it’s enough to rival any English seaside town!
For me though, the fresh fish here is what the menu is all about though. The fish of the day is chosen from the market every morning and they prepare it so simply. Grilled and with a bit of olive oil and lemon, the freshness shines through and the taste of the fish speaks for itself. You can go to the lobster tank or the fresh fish counter and choose your own fish to be cooked for you.
That’s why I just had to order the fish of the day on my last visit there! Dan and I ordered the turbot for two. It wasn’t cheap at (€32.00 per head) but it was spectacular. When it came out they wheeled it over on a trolley and filleted it for us at our table. It was perfectly moist and flaky and I loved the roasted tomatoes that came with it.
Mum and Dad ordered one of the daily specials too. They both had the monkfish and prawn kebab (€29.00). I have to admit, I kind of got food envy when theirs came out. Although mine was delicious, the kebab was spectacular. Definitely on my radar for the next trip!
We ordered lots of tomato and onion salads to share and a few extra cheeky portions of sweet potato fries and tucked in! Fresh seafood, a glass of chilled wine and lunch in the sun with a spectacular view and all my favourite people! Utter paradise!
If you fancy working off some of that lunch, the lake is also home to lots of activities. There’s a pool attached to the restaurant that diners can use. You can head to the beach next door where there is an inflatable obstacle course for kiddies (and big kids alike). And, if you have the energy you can even have a go at the water-sports that are on offer. There are pedalos, sailing boats, canoes and lots more. We all decided to have a go at paddle-boarding which was great fun. If you still have the energy you can wander over to The Shack next door, where they have live music most evenings and great sundowner cocktails. It’s the perfect place to spend the entire day with incredible food and lots of activities!
The Lake, Quinta do Lago,