Epur | The Michelin-Starred Chef's New Lisbon Venture.

WHERE TO FIND
There is a complicated answer as to the meaning behind the name of Vincent Farges’ long-awaited Lisbon debut, to do with the law of universal gravitation, but the simpler version is that it is derived from the French verb épurer, which means to declutter, to refine or to pu- rify. And that suits just fine, for the dishes that rolled out when I ate there last week were clean and lean, with every ingredient justified and flavours immaculate. I can count the years since I first discovered Vincent Farges’ cooking by how old my young-
est two children are. We were on holiday in Sintra and, upon asking where the nearest decent restaurant was, we were directed to a seafood place on the coast. We were disappointed but, learning that a Michelin-starred restaurant was next door, we returned to try that. It was mem- orable, to the extent that while my husband was soaring on another plane with the somme- lier, I was opening colouring books and trying to occupy the children. All the same, I can still recall the perfection of the seabass, served with iodine foam. Roll on a decade or so and my visit to Epur, high on a hill in Lisbon’s Chiado district, was unencumbered by children. Vincent Farges says of his menu: “At 40 you know yourself; you know what your culinary identity is,” and he proves the point with confident dish after confi- dent dish. The menu is highly minimalist and divided into “moments”, from which guests can choose anything from four to eight dishes (from €90 for four) – there are three starters (“water, greens, fields”), three mains (“sea, terroir, tradition”) and three desserts (“chocolate, orchard, vintage”). Relying on what is available at market, these change from day to day.

The Design and Menu

The tables are situated in an austere, clean-lined space with dishes served on Limoges por- celain. The kitchen (formerly a Bulthaup showroom and supremely spare even by restau- rant-kitchen standards) was also partially on view from the moment we walked through the door, though clever design meant it never dominated. Farges began with his suppliers and worked from there – he spent a year travelling around Portugal, ensuring he selected from producers who shared his passion. The resulting menu “is a cuisine that adapts to existing products and not the other way around,” he says. The wine list includes only Portuguese wines and wine pairing is offered from €40.
On the day we visited, I had rhubarb and green curry from the “fields”, lamb, fennel and pearl barley from the “terroir” and an essay in “chocolate”’ in the form of a chocolate, chartreuse and juniper cream glacée. The standout dish was from the sea – a rockfish fricassé, which Farges paid tribute to with a stirfry of chanterelles, broad beans, marrow and clams in a well-bal- anced sauce. This, perhaps, is what I had waited all those years for, to immerse myself without distraction in the two or three flavours on a plate combined in a way that only Vincent Farges can.

Scandinavian atmosphere

If you enter the restaurant you already look into the kitchen entirely made of Bulthaup parts but especially made for a chef to use. If you pass the kitchen you enter a small area where you can wait to be seated or drink a glass of Portuguese wine. Then you enter the restaurant which consists of three different rooms and has a Scandinavian, minimalistic atmosphere created by Desenhabitado. Chairs by Carl Hansen & Son combined with Portugese influences like the original tiles. Also pay attention to the structure in the ceiling designed by architects Guedes Cruz Arquitectos: it reflects the Portuguese azulejos (tiles) on the walls. Because the sky of Lisbon is known for the magical lights, you can expect the restaurant to look different every part of the day.

Pureness

Epur stands for pureness. To strip down all the noise and concentrate on the senses. The smell of the wood, the view of the city, the minimalistic table setting. “We don’t provide the napkins on the tables already, we present them as it’s the first dish. If you receive the soft napkin you let it go through your hands and feel it instead of just grab it and put it on your lap.” Same goes for the food: of course he works with the seasons, you can expect fish and meat dishes, he works with local producers, but he also likes to present typical Portuguese family recipes in a different way. He smiles if he tells me about the vintage dessert people who grew up in Portugal will remember for the taste, but can’t really bring home as he prepares it slightly different.



Restaurant | Henrique Leis.

Restaurant Henrique Leis – Michelin Star in the Heart of the Algarve.

Brazilian-born Henrique Leis first received his Michelin star in 2000, seven years after realizing his dream of opening his own restaurant in Loulé in the Algarve. Prior to this, Chef Leis cooked alongside such celebrity chefs as Paul Bocuse, Pierre Troisgros, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, and Gaston Lenotre. His commitment and dedication in the kitchen underscore his vision, creativity, and attention to detail, continuously ensuring the Michelin star honor year-after-year. A beautifully restored home is ideal for dining al fresco in the summer, where diners are surrounded by colorful flower boxes and shaded by umbrellas. In winter, the fireplace, rich ruby-red velvet chairs and the added personal touch of Henrique Lei’s own paintings exhibited on the natural stone walls provides a welcome and comfortable ambiance. This is the perfect setting for the mastery of Chef Leis who embraces French cuisine enhanced by flavors of his South American homeland.

The Menu. The Wine.

Any wine connoisseur will be envious of the restaurant’s wine room, with its dark mahogany shelves filled with the best Portuguese wines and international brands. Allow the sommelier to enhance your dining experience, by pairing wine selections with the tasting or a-la-carte menu.

The “Whole Table Only” Tasting menu consists of

■ Egg ‘a la Coque’ with Smoked Caviar
■ Sea Scallops and Truffle Ravioli
■ Lobster from Algarvian Coast with Risotto-Gel
■ Guinea Fowl Supreme Stuffed with Foie Gras
■ Chocolate Delights

Welcome.

After having gone through all sectors of the restoration it was in the kitchen that he found his true calling. He started with a culinary consultant Margarida Nogueira, for whom he has deep gratitude because it was the first to offer him, in 1982, the opportunity to work as a chef in his restaurant "Bem Feito" in Rio. Since then he had the opportunity to work with the best European chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Pierre Troisgros, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, and Gaston Lenotre. He passed through Italy, Germany and other countries, but it was in Portugal, in the Algarve, the place where he performed his dream of opening his own restaurant in 1993. In 2000 he was awarded the maximum consecration for a chef, getting a star in the Michelin guide. Since then, it has maintained the excellence of its cuisine, markedly personal and with deep French roots, ensuring Michelin star for 15 consecutive years until the present day. We highlight the vibrant colors, his vision, creativity and extraordinary accuracy in his kitchen. Closely cosmopolitan, heartfelt, contemporary and without nostalgia, looking to exercise his freedom without forgetting the basic values much as respect for the product, whether noble or less noble. A kitchen that celebrates the elegance and importance of details.